Molleindustria's critical protest game Phone Story was designed to achieve two ends: to raise consumer awareness of the conditions under which smartphones like the iPhone are produced, and to help serve as a fundraising tool.
The game, originally released for iPhone last September, traces the life of a modern mobile handheld device. It starts with coltan mining in the Congo, carries through to production in a Chinese factory, and wraps up with marketing and planned obsolescence. As we reported last year, Apple pulled the title from its App Store almost immediately after launch. Phone Story has since been made available to play on the web.
In a recent update statement, Molleindustria has announced where the money from Phone Story is now going. Although they were unable to generate as many sales as they had hoped, they have earned approximately $US6000 to date and plan to donate it to a former Foxconn employee who sustained significant injuries after a suicide attempt. They write:
Despite the positive reviews and the wide media coverage, the amount of money we were able to collect from sales and artist fees (the art organisations who exhibited the game) was humbling, a little more than $US6000 - see details below.
Then we came across the tragic story of Tian Yu, a girl who suffered from serious injuries after trying to commit suicide by jumping from the Foxconn's factory complex where she was working in 2010. She was 17 years old at the time.
We thought: $US6000 won't do that much to an organisation but they could be significant for an individual who used to earn about $US130 a month. So we made Tian Yu the recipient of our first donation.
Tian Yu suffered significant permanent spine and hip injuries as a result of her four-storey fall and is now paralysed from the waist down. Meanwhile, worker conditions at Foxconn's Chinese plants remain an active concern as we continue into 2012.