Phone Story has become a hot topic at the moment following its recent removal from the Apple App Store. Apple contacted the developer of the game explaining that they violated four rules for iOS app creation; its depictions of child abuse (code 15.2), objectionable or crude content (16.1) and promises to turn over a portion of the money to charity (21.1 and 21.2). Not to mention the fact that they probably felt the “Story” hit too close to home.
The game depicts a dark look at smartphone production, starting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the mineral coltan is mined by children and prisoners of war. The app then follows the production process to a Chinese factory where workers are subjected to abuse, discrimination, inhumane conditions, and forced overtime, ultimately leading to suicides. Next the story presents us with the hordes of oblivious consumers bombarding what is no doubt meant to portray an Apple store. I’m sure they didn’t appreciate that. Finally the story ends up in Ghana, Japan, & China where obsolete “recycled” phones have ended up to be salvaged using methods harmful to people and our environment, and from there the cycle repeats itself.
Following the removal from the App Store, the game has since appeared on the Android Market, a less police-state like environment. While some Android owners are all giddy that an app obviously bashing Apple and banned from the App Store is available for their phones, its important to remember that Apple isn’t the only entity guilty of this practice. Android Manufacturers likely partake in the dark side of production in some form or another, as well as we, the consumers, indirectly fueling it all along. That is precisely why this app should be allowed to exist. It’s a message to all of us, in an embodiment people will pay attention to, a game.
Now I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t buy phones, far from it, but the consumers have the power to change these production practices, so long as they are informed. If enough people get stirred up about the way these phones are being made, the manufacturers will change their production ethics if only to win the hearts and minds of those consumers. To a lesser extent, its like when HTC reversed its bootloader decision in response to the consumer outcry on Facebook. The consumer body has a powerful voice, they need only know when to use it.
I applaud developer,Molleindustria, for an attempt to educate the smartphone owner on the impact their trusty device has on the rest of this world and I sincerely hope some good will come of it.
All revenues from the sale of this app will be donated to organizations working to solve the issues portrayed in the game. Support their efforts for $1 in the Android Market.
Also, I would be very interested to hear any and all your comments on this matter in agreement or otherwise, so make your voice heard in the comments.