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Apple removes Sweatshop HD game from App Store

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Sweatshop HD
Sweatshop HD

Apple has removed the satirical Sweatshop HD game from the App Store, an iPad game centred on the idea of running a sweatshop.

Sweatshop HD is created by UK developer Littleloud, who created to game in an attempt to make people think about how their clothes are made.

“Sweatshop challenges players to manage an off-shore clothing factory, producing the latest in cheap designer fashions for Britain’s highstreets,” says the Sweatshop page on Littleloud’s website.

However, Apple has now removed the game from the App Store, saying it felt “uncomfortable selling a game based around the theme of running a sweatshop.”

The game was released in November 2012, but has been pulled from Apple’s online store. A type of tower defence game, Sweatshop HD allows players to churn out clothing, shoes and caps for brands  like “CryMark”, but also provides the options to deny workers access to basic human rights.

If players opt to subject their workers to maltreatment by blocking fire escapes, hiring low-cost child labour and enforcing long working hours, then they will achieve the highest scores for each level.

Created in a partnership with Channel 4, the game was meant for educational purposes. Littleloud actually worked with British charity Labour Behind the Label to ensure factual accuracy and provides reminders that the game is based on real events after each of the 30 levels. As players progress through the game, increasing difficulty levels introduce a wider range of problems for the sweatshop workers, such as fires and the lack of toilets.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also voted Sweatshop HD one of its top 5 “Best Practice Serious Games” and are currently writing an academic essay on the game’s educational properties.

“Apple specifically cited references in the game to clothing factory managers ‘blocking fire escapes’, ‘increasing work hours for labour’, and issues around the child labour as reasons why the game was unsuitable for same,” said Littleloud’s head of games, Simon Parkin to Pocket Gamer.

“Littleloud amended the app to clarify that Sweatshop is a work of fiction and was created with the fact-checking input of charity Labour Behind the Label, and to emphasise that the game doesn’t force players to play in one way or another. Rather, Sweatshop is a sympathetic examination of the pressures that all participants in the sweatshop system endure.”

“Sadly, these clarifications and changes weren’t enough to see the game reinstated for sale.”

Do you think Apple is right to remove games like this? Are games like Sweatshop really considered an educational tool by players? Give us your opinions via the TrustedReviews Facebook and Twitter pages or the comments below.

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