Phone Story

Paolo Pedercini – 2011

Pixeld men

Using the pseudonym »Molleindustria«, Paolo Perdecini has been producing experimental Flash games since 2003. […]

Following his »McDonald’s Videogame« (2006), Pedercini again examines the conditions of capital labour in »Phone Story«, reflecting with better sarcasm on the inhuman conditions under which smartphones are produced. The game’s first level begins with a cartoonish and stylized depiction of a coltan mine in the Congo. The ore, which is used in the manufacture of smartphones and tablets, is being mined there by children under harshest conditions. The players, in the role of uniformed and heavily armed guards, are supposed to motivate the exhausted children to keep working. Once the children have suffered enough verbal abuse, we reach the second level. The second level is an allusion to a series of suicides that took place in 2010 in the factories of the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn that, among others, assembles iPhones and iPads for Apple. The players are given the task of catching worker who throw themselves off the roof of the factory. Those that are saved immediately make their way back into the factory. The third level focuses on the consumer hype surrounding a brand whose logo is adorned by a pear. The cruel cycle concludes with the highly poisonous recycling of electronic waste, particularly in Africa and Asia. Follow the successful completion of all four levels, a new game mode becomes available: in »Obsolescene Mode«. The four levels are transformed into an endless circle of production, marketing hype, planned obsolescence, and new production.

Text by Sophie Rau and Stephan Schwingeler, published in »Games and Politics. An interactive exhibition of the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the ZKM | Center of Art and Media Karlsruhe", exhibition catalogue, Goethe-Institute, Munich 2016.