Murdering Homeless People Is Funny, Right?
Eugh. People are the fucking worst. Last week, I was sent a press release for a phone app called HoboHunt. It was described by the PR as a "controversial photo sharing app" that has "been rejected three times by Apple for being too outrageously offensive".
As it was written in that annoying "online marketing" language that everyone feels they have to use nowadays, I still didn't really know what the app was. So I got in touch with Synventus, the company that made it, to find out if it's as bad as the title would lead you to believe.
I spoke to Joel Usher, the "CEO", who broke it down for me:
"The 'Hobo' part [of the title] came about as a friend of mine, who commutes through Washington, DC, was constantly sending me camera phone pictures of hobos along his route, and making jokes about "hunting" them as he drove. He also told me that a group of attorneys (at a prestigious firm I won't name) all do the same, and that really triggered the idea behind the app.
"There are in-app purchases available, basically bundles of various weapons overlays. They vary from swords and knives to guns and such. These are really what drive the core concept of the game, as they appear on the screen and it looks as though these weapons are aimed at whatever you are taking a picture of. Thus the 'hunt' aspect."
Which gives the story of HoboHunt all the ingredients to be the worst thing of all time: 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.
Here is a simulation of what a picture taken in HoboHunt might look like. Pretty funny, right?!??!
It's not all about creating death threats towards people without homes, though. Josh told me that he expects people to "be initially uncomfortable taking pictures of real hobos", and predicts that most people will just use it to "take pictures of their friends". Just as people don't always use Angry Birds to throw angry birds at things, and sometimes use it as a nightlight, or as a bird-sound generator.
I was kind of in two minds as to whether or not to post something about this, as when I asked Josh if he thought the app was maybe a little offensive, he told me: "Honestly, we were sort of banking on the controversy of it to get it attention and thus promote sales." And I'm not usually in the business of feeding trolls.
But the thing is, I downloaded the app and played around with it for a minute, and it's fucking TERRIBLE. Not just because of the obvious reasons (that it's evil, and that the concept doesn't actually make any sense), but because it's just really really really crap. It looks like shit, it's confusing to use, and you have to pay money to unlock any stuff to overlay onto the pictures.
But I guess if you can afford to spend real money on virtual weapons, feel free to blast away all the homeless people you like.
HoboHunt is currently available for Android phones but not for iPhones.
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @JLCT