Sweatshop

Channel 4

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overview

Over 1 million plays within 3 months of launch

Shortlisted by MIT as one of the university’s ‘Best Practice’ Serious Games

Average playing is time 15 minutes

awards

Broadcast Digital Nomination, Game

 
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Sweatshop challenges players to manage an off-shore clothing factory, producing the latest in cheap designer fashions for Britain's high streets.

Channel 4 was eager to create a game that challenged young people to think about the origin of the clothes we buy.

Our solution was a strategy game that casts the player in the role of a clothing factory’s middle management. The player is responsible for hiring and firing workers, ensuring that orders are completed in time and balancing the needs of demanding clients with worker welfare.

The game is broken into 30 levels with scaling difficulty and complexity, introducing new worker types and real-world sweatshop problems such as fires, unions and the lack of toilets to add authenticity to the game mechanics.

Artist Gary J Lucken provided the art for the game, the cutesy styling contrasting with the challenging subject matter.

Likewise, a dark comedic story leads the player through the narrative journey of Boy, a child worker in the factory, and Boss, the factory owner, interspersing comedy with moments of poignancy, tragedy and sadness.

We worked with British charity Labour Behind The Label to ensure the game was factually accurate, and after each level the player is presented with a fact that marries the themes of the preceding plot with real world events.

The game was recently selected by MIT as one of the top five ‘Best Practice Serious Games’. The university is currently writing a paper on the game.

“Working with such a creative team at Littleloud made the commissioning and production of Sweatshop for C4 Education an absolute dream.

They are the kind of company you can trust to understand a brief completely, listen to what you want, translate that into their own flavour of awesome, and produce the highest quality, intelligent, beautiful product.” Jo Twist, Commissioning Editor, Channel 4 Education

“It is the reduction of human beings to numbers, pesky weak flesh in the way of the profit, that is Sweatshop’s frightening strength.” PBS

“My workers kept dying of dehydration, so I begrudgingly had to invest in a water fountain. The longer I played, the more each moving part—workers, children, hats—became abstracted into the image of one big machine.” The New Yorker

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