Earlier today, we reported the news that Apple had pulled Molleindustria’s iPhone game Phone Story from the app store. The game depicts four stages of the production of a smartphone, exposing the ugly truths of smartphone development with a frankness that is designed to make users uncomfortable.
A friend of mine managed to snag a copy of the game during the three hours it was available on iTunes and shot this video on his laptop. It shows all four sections of the game. At the start, a narrator guides players through four different sections.
Players begin in a Coltan mining facility in the Congo, and must yell at workers to keep productivity high. If you stop, the game admonishes you and says that you can’t get out of your complicity by not participating, as you are already participating by owning a smartphone.
After that, players control a safety net designed to keep factory workers from leaping to their deaths. This level is a gruesome take on the now-infamous Foxconn scandal involving suicides and other struggles of the Chinese factory workers who build many of America’s favourite electronics. (Our Joel Johnson reported extensively for Gizmodo.)
In the third phase, players take control of an Apple Store employee who hands out smartphones to charging consumers.
“Then, you purchased this phone,” the game tells the player. “It was new and sexy. You waited for it for months. No evidence of its troubling past was visible. Did you really need it [the phone] ? Of course you did! We invested a lot of money to instill this desire in you. You were looking for something that could signal your status, your dynamic lifestyle, your unique personality. Just like everyone else.”
If you fail, once again the narrator tells you, “You didn’t meet the goal. Don’t pretend you are not complicit.”
In the final level, the game walks players through the planned obsolescence of the product, and the eWaste that it generates.
We haven’t heard back from Apple about the game and why it’s no longer on iTunes, but we’ll update when we do.
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