It was designed to be a bit of fun for girls unable to find the perfect man. But the Boyfriend Trainer app has found itself at the centre of controversy over claims it encourages young women to use violence against their partner.
Costing 69p, the sales blurb of Boyfriend Trainer reads: “Crack that whip and teach your guy a thing or two about being the Perfect Boyfriend! When scolding doesn’t work, just zap him, whack him and train him to be your ideal man!”
The game is marketed by Mumbai-based Games2win India, which makes a host of animated apps aimed squarely at the female market. Other titles include Naughty Air Hostess, Teen 17 Beauty Queen and My Bridal Boutique.
But critics say, with their latest offering, they have gone too far.
Boyfriend Trainer begins with instructions such as “click on him to hit him when he checks out the girls”. In one level, the player must tap his face every time he looks at another girl, leaving a red welt on his cheek. Another level sees the girlfriend character zapping her other half with a taser whenever he messes up the flat they share. And, yet another encourages you to hit him with a tennis racket whenever he changes the television channel from the programme you were watching. Players also lead their boyfriends around on a leash and can spray mace into their boyfriend’s eyes if they look at another girl on the dance floor.
Some people seem to have enjoyed the concept. “This game is fun,” said one. “I like to see the boy getting hit by the girl.”
But many users leaving reviews said they were worried about the impression it was giving youngsters. “This app is TERRIBLE!!!!!!” wrote on user calling themselves cake lover. “If I could rate it 0 stars, I would. The girl just slaps the guy and acts like she’s in charge. I mean, girls don’t act like this. DO NOT buy this game!”
Jazzy 1289 agreed, saying: “I hate how this game is so abusive. I understand it’s just a game but kids play this and u don’t want this to be an influence on them.”
Currently available both for iPhone and Android, Boyfriend Trainer is still available from the Apple store, despite the company’s proven zero tolerance policy for nudity in apps and its good record at disallowing apps which promote violence against women and children. The Cupertino, California, based company recently yanked an app called Baby Shaker – a disturbing game which allowed users to quiet a virtually crying infant by shaking their phone.
It goes without saying that there would be an outcry if a similar game was made where the gender roles were switched. So many critics are asking why it should be okay for a woman to hit a man, even in jest.
Schmidty420 writes: “Not only is this extremely abusive and wrong but it’s teaching girls that this kind of behaviour is okay. Imagine if the roles were reversed.”