Game Review: Sweatshop


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Game Review: Sweatshop

  1. 1.
  2. 2. So what is this game?
  3. 3. It’s a game exploring the high cost of cheap fashion…
  4. 4. A free strategy game about money, fashion, and dismembered limbs.
  5. 5. Wait, what? Who designed this game?
  6. 6. Actually, the game was commissioned by Channel 4 in Westminster, London
  7. 7. Channel 4 is the UK's only publicly-owned, commercially-funded public service broadcaster.
  8. 8. The game design itself was developed by Little Loud in Brighton, UK.
  9. 9. Little Loud describes itself as developing ideas that engage, entertain and occasionally provoke, all glued together by innovative storytelling.
  10. 10. What were Channel 4 and Little Loud attempting when they made Sweatshop?
  11. 11. They are raising awareness by showing us how shoes and clothes get to here…
  12. 12. From their beginnings here.
  13. 13. Who is the target audience for this game?
  14. 14. The game is geared for college students, young adults in their 20s, and perhaps the rebellious high schooler…
  15. 15. Because the language would never make it into a high school classroom…
  16. 16. And the humor with heavy sexual innuendo is not really appropriate for any age group…
  17. 17. But on a more positive note, the game is set up to appeal to the college aged crowd by sharing among friends on Facebook and many other social networking sites.
  18. 18. And there is a designated page on the main menu for downloading backgrounds and IM icons.
  19. 19. So what is the story being told by Sweatshop?
  20. 20. Well, the previous factory manager quit, so you’ve been hired to run the factory floor.
  21. 21. All the workers left with the former manager. All but one small child worker. One small child who asks difficult questions, and frames the goal of the game for you.
  22. 22. Oh, and your boss is still around.
  23. 23. A simple strategy game, but with many layers of complexity.
  24. 24. The game has 30 levels, which take 2-3 hours to play through quickly (not worrying about score).
  25. 25. Game play continues to be interesting through increasing complexity at each level
  26. 26. Conveyor belt shapes become more complex, production orders more varied.
  27. 27. Besides hiring workers, you can increase production by providing training, refreshment, and increased profits. The boss gives you hints at key moments to scaffold your learning.
  28. 28. But even though he gives you hints, production is still the bottom line. Too many mistakes, and you lose. After each level you are given feedback in terms of quality, time, and cash.
  29. 29. The game employs Multiple Intelligences learning theory, offering many instances of both direct and indirect learning.
  30. 30. Direct learning occurs on the summary page at the end of every level. Under the “For Real” heading, the game designers list the facts of sweatshops in the real world.
  31. 31. 30 levels, and 30 opportunities for the reality of sweatshops to sink in.
  32. 32. At the end of the game, your total stats are listed, giving you a fairly direct view of the consequences of your decisions throughout the game.
  33. 33. A particularly helpful feature of the final scorecard is your final Boss rank. This is very helpful feedback on how you are balancing your principles and your profits.
  34. 34. The game also offers many opportunities for indirect learning, another way of using Multiple Intelligences learning theory and also bringing in Constructivism.
  35. 35. You can choose to employ children in your factory, or not. You experience many costs and benefits to the decision either way.
  36. 36. Through your choices about child workers, you begin to realize some of the less obvious side effects.
  37. 37. You begin to see the many layers of exploitation operating in a sweatshop. There is hierarchy even here, among desperate workers. Foreign workers with a language barrier are at an even greater disadvantage.
  38. 38. Exploitation comes not only in terms of pay, but through stripping away basic human rights and common decency.
  39. 39. And exploitation manifests in some truly horrific forms. In case these indirect/constructivist lessons weren’t quite getting through to you.
  40. 40. By being in the role of factory manager, you begin to realize the cruel math that starts to make sense in a twisted sort of way. Profits? Or principles?
  41. 41. You also see the math work the other way, to benefit workers. Higher principles can lead to higher profits.
  42. 42. The game gives you opportunity to see the complexity of the issue, without putting a solution in a pretty package.
  43. 43. All these are examples of in-game consequences rather than having to feel first-hand in the real world, like in the game Re-Mission (Tate 2009; week 5).
  44. 44. So is playing Sweatshop worth your time?
  45. 45. YES!
  46. 46. In addition to the many direct and indirect lessons already mentioned,
  47. 47. It’s helpful to note that Sweatshop is actually a GAME, not merely gamification/exploitationware (Bogost 2011; week 10).
  48. 48. Sweatshop does a wonderful job combining the contradictory elements of a serious game: the trivial and the powerful.
  49. 49. Sweatshop offers addictive gameplay and an immersive narrative.
  50. 50. And the game does not overemphasize points, badges, trophies, etc. (Bogost 2011).
  51. 51. The game employs thoughtfully chosen design elements for effective dissemination of information (Atkin 1994; week 10).
  52. 52. Target audience: college-aged young adults (Atkin 1994).
  53. 53. Target response: Atkin notes that an explicit recommendation is best, something that offers behavior modeling. (Atkin 1994).
  54. 54. Target response: SWEATSTOP (under the “PLAY GAME” button on the main page) Many of the clothes available in our high street shops have been manufactured in sweatshops, factories that routinely pay their workers less than the minimum wage, and prevent the formation of unions to campaign for better working conditions. Sweatshop is a light-hearted game, but it’s based upon very present realities that many workers around the world contend with each day. Littleloud and Channel 4 worked with experts on sweatshops to integrate some of these realities into the game design. In addition, there are numerous facts and figures spread throughout the game, highlighting the plight of the workers who may well have made the clothes you are wearing today. Read on for more information about the truths behind Sweatshop (with the relevant sources). Visit sites such as Labour Behind the Label, War On Want, Fairtade and No Sweat if you’d like to get involved in campaigns to improve the plight of workers around the globe.
  55. 55. Multiple incentives: Real world principles (such as basic human compassion), score summary after every stage, final scorecard, final boss rank, and the ability to earn trophies (Atkin 1994).
  56. 56. Credibility: Trustworthiness and familiarity of Channel 4 as the sponsor. Reliability of over 20 sources of data for the facts listed at the end of each level (Atkin 1994).
  57. 57. Style of presentation: Purposefully cartoonish, humorous, satirical. Able to smoothly mix fun and seriousness (Atkin 1994).
  58. 58. Personally involving and relevant: Addictive gameplay and immersive narrative keep your attention. Any player of the game wears shirts and shoes, so the gameplay connects close to home (Atkin 1994).
  59. 59. Clarity: The theme line is concise, “a game exploring the high cost of cheap fashion,” but could stand to be featured more prominently throughout the game (Atkin 1994).
  60. 60. The game also employs many Behavior Change Techniques from Abraham and Michie (2008; week 10). Behavior Change Techniques Done Well Provide information about behaviorhealth link Not Done X Provide information on others’ approval Done Poorly X Provide information on consequences Done OK X Behavior Change Techniques Done Well Provide contingent rewards Done Poorly X X Agree on behavioral contract Prompt practice Prompt intention formation X Prompt barrier identification X X Use follow-up prompts Provide opportunities for social comparison Provide general encouragement X Set graded tasks X Provide Instruction X Prompt specific goal setting X Prompt review of behavioral goals X Provide feedback on performance X X X X Prompt identification as a role model X Prompt self-monitoring of behavior X Plan social support or social change Model or demonstrate the behavior Not Done X Teach to use prompts or cues Done OK X X Prompt self-talk X Relapse prevention Stress management X X Motivational interviewing Time management X
  61. 61. Most of the Behavior Change Techniques used in the game are to help one become a principled factory manager, so some translation will be required to help the player become an activist in their own setting (Abraham & Michie 2008).
  62. 62. The game also employed many of the Persuasive Technology Design Principles described by Oinas-Kukkonen and Harjumaa (1994; week 10). Persuasive Technology Design Principles Done Well Done OK Done Poorly Not Done Persuasive Technology Design Principles Done Well Reduction X Trustworthiness X Expertise Done Poorly Not Done X Tunneling Done OK X X Tailoring X Surface credibility Personalization X Real-world feel Self-monitoring X Authority Simulation X X Third-party endorsements X Rehearsal Verifiability Praise X X X X Social learning Rewards X Social comparison X Reminders Suggestion Liking Social role X X Normative influence X X Social facilitation X Similarity (like Proteus Effect) X X X Cooperation Competition X X Recognition X
  63. 63. Remember that the Persuasive Technology Design Principles are grouped into four categories: primary task support, dialogue support, system credibility support, and social support (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa 1994).
  64. 64. Sweatshop is particularly strong in dialogue support and system credibility support (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa 1994).
  65. 65. With additional funding and time for development, the game could be improved in several ways.
  66. 66. If players were able to customize an avatar, the game would take advantage of identification (the Proteus Effect described by Lieberman in week 6; and the personalization and similarity principles described by Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa).
  67. 67. If an online multiplayer feature were added, the game would take advantage of the principles of social learning, social comparison, social facilitation, and cooperation (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa).
  68. 68. Adding a few ways to begin participating in sweatshop activism would be as easy including additional links to external websites, and would contribute toward the primary task support through the rehearsal principle (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa).
  69. 69. Finally, adding a few prominent 3rd-party endorsements would increase the system credibility support (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa).
  70. 70. My final recommendation: Play this game! You could build in a social component for yourself by talking to some friends as you go, reading further on your own, and finding a mentor. So, give this game a chance to persuade you to get involved in the real world.
  71. 71. BONUS Sweatshop Video Game: Fear Factory featured on The Daily Show, airing January 16, 2012 (start around the 6:00 minute mark for the Serious Game portion)