Monday 11 July 2011, London – Channel 4 Education is launching Sweatshop, a web-based strategy game from award-winning digital agency Littleloud in which players manage an offshore clothing manufacturer supplying the latest in designer clothes and fast fashion to the UK’s hippest high-street stores.
Through a series of thirty challenging levels players must balance the unreasonable demands of Boss, the temperamental factory owner and Boy, a gentle, hard-working child labourer. Together, the team must work to make the factory a roaring success supplying clothes to their ever-demanding retail clients.
Illustrated by Gary Lucken (of Army of Trolls fame) and evolving a Tower Defence style mechanic, this comedic game presents a series of moral dilemmas to the player, who must juggle the needs of clients with the welfare of workers. Should you hire a fire officer to prevent the risk of workers dying horribly in an industrial blaze or pack them in to get the job done? Should you train workers to make them more efficient and satisfied or fire them when they lose a limb in an industrial accident? How do you motivate workers: with generous treats and toilet breaks or with an iron fist, long hours and verbal abuse? Maybe you just want to buy a bunch of robots to do the job instead, forcing your human workforce into deeper poverty.
As the player journeys through the game, the story of the characters evolve and the sweatshop grows, moving into ever new larger premises with all the complications of management this entails. Ultimately, the player will be managing multiple ranges of clothing across huge labyrinthine conveyor belts, while trying to meet the ever-increasing demands of the disposable, fast-fashion industry.
Despite its light-hearted visual tone and cartoonish aesthetic, Sweatshop offers an accurate picture of the lives of those who work in the sweatshop system, from the lowly child workers who stitch together the clothes, all the way up to the Western client who places the orders, responding to the trends set by an image-obsessed celebrity culture. The game is littered with real facts about the fast fashion industry and aims to provoke teenagers into thinking about their fashion choices more carefully.
With expert advice from UK-based charity, Labour Behind The Label, there’s a serious message behind the engaging game play and relentless gags. By the end of the game the player will have a deeper understanding of where their cheap clothes came from, and hopefully won’t have lost too many workers’ limbs getting there.
Comm. Ed: Jo Twist
Prod. Co: Littleloud
Press contact: Rebecca Ladbury / 07941 224 975 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Littleloud Studios are a BAFTA award winning creative agency producing Digital Entertainment for the film, broadcast and gaming industries. Productions are delivered to work over multiple formats including TV, Web, Mobile, Game Consoles and emerging hand held devices. Littleloud Studios provide a full service solution including Concept Development&Art Direction, 2D/3D Animation, Live Action Filming, Web based Drama and Gaming content. From script and film production to 3D animation and interactive game play, Littleloud leads the way in producing broadcast quality cross platform content. Littleloud’s clients include BBC, Channel 4, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Sony Entertainment and Universal Pictures.
There are four main characters in the sweatshop story, the Western client, the sweatshop boss, the floor manager (the player), and the child worker (the player’s employee). As the game progresses through the 30 stages worker units get tired. Every unit has a personal‘tiredness’ stat that depletes as they work hard to make clothes. The player must carefully manage unit fatigue or risk the health of their workers.To help the workers the player can try to upgrade their factory to improve their work rate, raise morale of cure fatigue. Each player’s Sweatshop has a‘morale’ stat that increases and decreases depending on how happy their workers are, this statistic aggregates across the game so that by the end the number indicates what type of Sweatshop manager you were: a ruthless taskmaster, a soft touch, or something in between.
Various events in the game will cause morale to increase and decrease, for example a worker is fired, there is a fire in the factory or a worker‘gives up the ghost’. Later on in the game there is an increased risk of certain random events occurring that the player can either choose to prepare for, or can choose to respond to once they occur, from a fire in the factory, a visit by an inspector (player incurs a fine for every child worker currently employed), or an increased risk of industrial accidents.