Welcome To Sweatshop
Sweatshop, a free strategy web game I wrote with the team at indie developer Littleloud launched today. You can play it here.
It’s been developed in partnership with Channel 4 education, as part of the broadcaster’s programme to educate about fashion through games.
At the start of Sweatshop you are promoted to the position of “Manager-in-Training” at a foreign clothing factory. It’s your job to hire and fire the workers who make clothes for western high street clothing stores, balancing the unreasonable demands of Boss, your temperamental factory owner and Boy, a gentle, hard-working child labourer.
The idea is that, by placing you in a middle management role, you get to feel first hand the different pressures that tug on the various players in the real-life clothing manufacturing industry.
Loosely, it’s a Tower Defense-style game except, instead of shooting down aliens, your “towers” are workers who must stitch the clothes that travel along the conveyor belt. And instead of having base health points, you have “trust” with your client, which is broken for every piece of clothing that reaches the end of the belt incomplete.
So it’s a constructive Tower Defense game, which I *think* is a first (although it’s never wise to make that claim!).
I worked with a super small core team (including the wonderful Gary J. Lucken) to realise the game over about 8 months. It was the most positive game-building experience I’ve had, and I’m super pleased with the results. We worked with fair-trade experts on the educational stuff, which we tried to bake into the game mechanics. Hopefully you learn as you play and while the script is completely stupid, it’s pretty much all based on cast iron facts.
Anyway! Making games is super hard. And we managed to make one and, while it’s pretty much impossible to really know whether a game you’ve worked on is really any good, I’ve played this one a lot, in my spare time, just for fun, which is hopefully a good sign. Hopefully.
OK! That’s quite enough babbling. Go meet Boss and Boy and make some clothes.
Let me know what you think in the comments when you get chance.