Endorphina Withdraws Maori-themed Slot Following Maori BacklashPublished February 19, 2017 by Ivan P
After a strong backlash from the Maori community, Endorphina has decided to withdraw their Maori slot released in December 2016.
The recently released Maori slot has been officially withdrawn after a number of protests the slot creator Endorphina had received from Maori public health agency Hapai Te Hauora. The Czech game developer described the game as "celebrating the cultural heritage of Maori people," but the slot experienced a strong backlash from the New Zealand community, accusing Endorphina of breaching intellectual property rights.
Insulting and Illegal
After Maori had been released late last year, Lance Norman, Hapai Te Hauora chief executive, described the game as an insult to Maori people. Norman explained the game uses familiar symbols and environment to lure people in, using the intellectual property of the Maori people without anyone's consent and approval.
Apart from the legality issues, Hapai Te Hauora found the game that much more insulting considering the fact many Maori suffer from gambling issues which profoundly influenced the cohesion and financial stability of Maori families.
The game is initially free to play, but at a certain point, players are required to risk real money if they wish to continue playing. In the letter sent out to Endorphina, the agency explained this attempt to lure people into playing wasn't only inappropriate, but was also illegal, as symbols and sounds used in-game are the property of the Maori people protected by law.
In the game, Endorphina used pounamu symbols, which are the intellectual property of Ngai Tahu. Bigger wins, when a player would line up three or four Maori warrior symbols, were celebrated by Maori haka, which belongs to Ngati Toa. Hapai Te Hauora lawyers pointed out to these breaches in the letter sent to the Czech company, asking them to remove the game.
Endorphina was quick to react, as all the negative publicity that accompanied the game wasn't what they planned for. The company withdrew the game, and Endorphina director Erlene May Rodriguez issued an official apology to Ngai Tahu, Ngati Toa, and anyone else who felt offended by the game.
In the apology, Rodriguez emphasized the company's intention wasn't to insult Maoris or other New Zealanders, nor were they looking to gain additional benefits by using Maori symbols and cultural icons.