Monday, August 1, 2011

Tower defense sweatshop: the wonderful world of newsgames

[Cross-posted from the Duncan/Channon Posterous...]

Screen shot 2011-07-18 at 1.50.07 PM.png

"Sweatshop is a new browser game, developed by Littleloud for Channel 4 Education, in which players fill the role of a factory floor manager in a developing nation. Taking design cues from the tower defense genre, the game tasks you with placing skilled workers and child laborers along a conveyor belt."

I'm a big fan of games that teach, not by lecturing or quizzing, but by letting you take on the role of a newsmaker. You're in a much better position to understand the decision space of the person once you've worked through their decision tree a couple of times. In any case, I'm following the recent wave of newsgames with a fair bit of interest. Their ability to model complex, inhuman systems lets us get past our usual bias towards narratives and personalites, at least that's what we hope for.

Which is how we come to a tower defense game in a sweatshop. Initially, you can make all the jeans or other clothes with fine and safe labor practices, but as the game increases in complexity you're forced to choose which goals you're really working for. Very clever example of procedural rhetoric, and a good use of existing gaming conventions.

The frightening, real-world power of Channel 4's "Sweatshop."

No comments: