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Sweatshop - a new game for kids!
July 20, 2011 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Sweatshop is a new educational game for teenagers from Britain's Channel 4. Produced by Littleloud, Sweatshop aims to teach teens about the working conditions behind their clothes through a mixture of frenetic, tower defense-based arcade levels set in a contract clothing factory and factual inserts between levels.

Previous edutainment commissioned by Channel 4 includes Privates, a 2D shoot-em-up about sexual health, and The Curfew, also by Littleloud, a multiple-choice adventure about civil liberties written by Uncanny X-Men's Kieron Gillen (previously).
posted by running order squabble fest (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Frankly, the concept of a sweatshop as a video game offends me more than the Columbine shoot-em-up Flash game from a couple years back.
posted by mafted jacksie at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2011


If you're talking about Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, have you actually played either that or this game?
posted by griphus at 7:32 AM on July 20, 2011


This game is pretty insulting IMO. Sweatshop conditions are like meatpacking factories... this game is almost trifling
posted by mafted jacksie at 7:36 AM on July 20, 2011


Yeah, let's not play the game because it's offensive, but keep wearing the clothing.
posted by ODiV at 7:47 AM on July 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


(Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, pedantry fans, was not a Flash game - it was made in RPG Maker 2000 - although these days you could make it as a browser game quite easily.)

Incidentally, another treatment of sweatshop-as-game, made by the new pollution and commissioned by Britain's Trades Union Congress as part of a campaign for a sweatshop-free olympics, can be found here. It takes a very different approach to the mechanics, putting you in the role of laborer rather than manager.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:49 AM on July 20, 2011


... it was made in RPG Maker 2000...

Yeah, for some reason I thought the early beta was in Flash, but I'm thinking of something else. One of the ten thousand horrible Newgrounds games (which actually are shoot-em-ups) probably.
posted by griphus at 7:51 AM on July 20, 2011


I refuse to participate in anything that might cause me to question my worldview. Thinking is for people with nothing better to do.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost every product you buy from the clothes on your back to the food at the market to the device used to type this comment is either poisoning the environment, supporting dictators or ensalving people.
posted by The Whelk at 7:59 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Games can be a great way to explain how a system works such that it becomes intuitive to the player rather than an explained but abstract scenario. This game doesn't do that. Maybe if the player managed the factory within a larger social context it would work; micromanaging where your workers stand on the production line, plus some basic resource management on top, is just a tower defense genre example with a sweatshop theme. Ideally, a game about a sweatshop would leave the player with an understanding of how the system works, what constraints and forces sustain it, and why it chews people up.

There are other games which use the medium to explain (simplified) systems rather than packaging a message separately. Oiligarchy is a pretty simple game about oil production and eventual scarcity, and Civ III does a good job of showing how natural resources can lead to war. I recall Ayiti being decent, although not as good as a global, randomized version which I can't find now.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was better than I expected, for reasons entirely unrelated to the above.
posted by postcommunism at 8:12 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just got a new pair of sneakers, and noticed that as well as the US, UK and Euro size, there's also a Chinese size listed under the tongue.
I take this as a sign that the world is getting slightly better
posted by Flashman at 9:14 AM on July 20, 2011


There's a trick to humanizing characters in video games. I'm not sure exactly how to do it for something like this, but I can say that the game failed. I think this could have been effective, if the workers were little more than generic sprites. Naming them would have been a start.
posted by Hactar at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2011


There's a trick to humanizing characters in video games.

Make them cute, talking animals.
posted by ODiV at 10:04 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, for some reason I thought the early beta was in Flash, but I'm thinking of something else. One of the ten thousand horrible Newgrounds games (which actually are shoot-em-ups) probably.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on July 20 [+] [!]


I think you might be thinking of this.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:32 AM on July 20, 2011


Hactar: Naming them would have been a start.

ODiV: Make them cute, talking animals.

Sidenote - in MolleIndustria's polemic game about fast food,Burger Tycoon, the humans don't have names, but the cows do.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2011


there's also a Chinese size listed under the tongue. I take this as a sign that the world is getting slightly better

What, that rich Chinese can buy the same products of horrendous working conditions as rich Westerners can?
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:46 AM on July 20, 2011


Yup
posted by Flashman at 11:24 AM on July 20, 2011


It's targeted toward teens, which is smart, but it doesn't really tailor the way it works toward its audience. By the time I finally got to where the guy says "Okay, here's how it works..." my attention span was already maxed out. I can't imagine any teenager sitting through all that copy.
posted by missjenny at 11:30 AM on July 20, 2011


This feels like a bad idea from 2005. Horrible.
posted by johnny novak at 1:10 PM on July 20, 2011


Okay, despite the presentation, there are important facts that you get to learn as you progress through the game. I, for one, found out the technical definition of a sweatshop (not every factory is a sweatshop) and lots more. It's kinda like Fruit Ninja, but with fun facts of despair and horror.
posted by lemuring at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2011


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