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Games can be used to make all sorts of things fun: chores, work and education to name a few. But suicide? That’s a new one. And not surprisingly, it’s highly controversial, too. A new game called Phone Story has hit the Android Market this week, but there’s no telling whether or not it will get to take up long term residence. Created by Michael Pineschi, the game was created to raise awareness around the global affects of smartphone manufacturing. After a spike in suicides by workers at two factories run by Foxconn in China (where iPhones and iPads were assembled), Pineschi decided to make a game that keeps workers from committing suicide, directing them back to the factory and keeping profits up.
An activist game, Phone Story takes you through the entire life-cycle of a smartphone, largely based on the iPhone creation process. In the game you force children to work at gun point at a mine in Africa, and even throw phones at consumers who rush the store on release day. The idea behind Phone Story is to make the public aware of the real life process behind smartphone manufacturing, but has Pineschi gone too far?
Apple thinks so. While the game was initially approved for the iTunes App Store, it was taken down 20 hours later, once the media caught wind. Now banned by Apple, Phone Story takes its chances on the more open Android Market. The 99-cent Phone Story gained over 1,000 downloads in the iTunes App Store before being removed, and Pineschi says all the profits will go to workers organizations in China. First set at $1.50 for Android devices, Phone Story is now $1.00, but has yet to gain triple-digit growth. Pineschi says he’ll know later this week how well Phone Story did on Android.
Game activism a growing trend?
But is a game even Pineschi admits is in poor taste worth the trouble? Even if Phone Story is banned from all commercial app markets, the activist game could have still done its job, raising awareness for a cause. Our addiction to mobile games is becoming a target for activists, as Dog Wars was also hacked to send a message to PETA when a player downloaded the game. Is game activism a new trend, or are developers walking a fine line? Every good cause has its controversy.