A new Android app that allows gamers to “hunt” homeless people has created a storm of controversy.
Web development and consulting start-up Synventus LLC introduced a provocative new Android application last week titled “HoboHunt,” which allows users to edit photos of homeless individual by adding images of various weapons.
“HoboHunt is a photo-sharing game in which users can arm themselves with an arsenal of fun and realistic weapons to hunt their friends, family or strangers,” the company said in a statement.
Synventus CEO Joel Usher cites his friends as the inspiration for the app, explaining that the group frequently takes photos of people out in public. And HoboHunt, Usher contends, is really just a fun image editor.
“We don’t have the patience to doctor up pictures with fancy effects,” Usher said. “We just wanted a variety of awesome camera overlays to jazz things up.”
In the case of the HoboHunt app, “awesome camera overlays” are limited to a variety of weapons such as assault rifles and knives, many of which must be unlocked with further payments.
But controversy seems to be part of the company’s modus operandi. Apple rejected the game from its App store three times for being too offensive, part of the reason HoboHunt is featured only on Android’s more open marketplace. The company itself warns consumers that the game, “is not for the delicate or faint-hearted.”
Usher admitted as much in an interview with Vice.com, explaining that the team was “banking on the controversy of it to get it attention and thus promote sales.”
Taete himself deemed the program, the “f***ing worst” in the same interview. Usher explained that the “Hobo” portion of the title came from one specific member of his group of friends who constantly sent the CEO photos of hobos and joked about “hunting them” as he drove.
“[This] gives the story of HoboHunt all the ingredients to be the worst thing of all time,” Taete concludes. “Smug rich people laughing at poor people, phone-apps, smarmy Internet startup guys who refer to themselves as a ‘CEO,’ people making bad jokes about killing other human beings, etc.”
In the release, Usher called the process of creating the game and being turned down several times, “agonizing.”