Photo from TechCrunch.
Though it’s generally agreed that Apple is the pre-eminent brand of the 21st century and kind of a big deal, the company still draws its share of detractors. “Phone Story”, a game that was available for a mere seven hours in the iPhone App Store (still downloadable for Android), features several mini-games based on specific controversial aspects of Apple’s supply chain.
Created by Italian developer Molleindustria (other games include deconstructions of McDonald’s and the oil industry), the most unsettling mini-game in the app is “Suicides”, in which players thumb a pair of rescuers holding a fireman’s trampoline left and right, in a bid to save Foxconn employees bent on jumping off of a building to meet their makers.
Though gameplay itself isn’t all that original, with plenty of catch-them-as-they-fall games being around since the halcyon 8-bit era, the premise usually goes that the jumpers are escaping a burning building, and need the gamer’s help in being saved.
However, in “Suicides”, the jumpers are escaping the existential angst that comes from assembling iPhones all day long, rather than any fires. The only thing unique about the mini-games seems to be their context, with “Coltan mining” (in which gamers try to keep Congolese workers mining a mineral used to make phones vibrate in line), “Obsolescence” (direct customers into Apple Stores as quickly as possible), and “eWaste” (pass hazardous electronic components to recyclers in Pakistan) all taking jabs at different global facets of the Apple phenomenon.
Although Apple cited the app’s violent and crude depictions as the primary reasons for its banishment, the game’s blatant critique of the tech-company’s practices undoubtedly struck a nerve. Molleindustria’s stated intention even says as much:
“‘Phone Story” is a game for smartphone devices that attempts to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform. Under the shiny surface of our electronic gadgets, behind its polished interface, hides the product of a troubling supply chain that stretches across the globe.
Concerned anti-coporate iconoclasts that they are, Molleindustria claims that all game revenue will go to non-profit organizations battling the “troubling supply chain.” The developer’s next stated plan is to create a new satirical game sans “crude and objectionable depictions”.
Perhaps a Foxconn-relevant app where gamers would attempt to hand out as much candy as possible to gloomy workers in a set amount of time? Wouldn’t that be nice.
With contributions and research by Benjamin Cost