Molleindustria has released Phone Story, an unusual iPhone and iPod touch game intended to educate players on the “dark side” of smart phones—implicitly including iPhones themselves. Describing “hidden social costs,” the game takes the player through four mini-games illustrating a disturbing process of smartphone manufacturing: soldiers exploiting child Coltan miners in the Congo, suicidal workers jumping from the roof of a factory in China, crazed consumers rushing a store with a pear logo, and lastly obsolete junk parts being disposed of in waste dumps in Pakistan. Phone Story initially narrates each mini-game in a story mode; upon completion, gamers can continue to play in an endless “obsolencence mode” for a high score in an “endless spiral of technological obsolescence.”

On its web site, Molleindustria describes the goal of the game as being “to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform” and “make the player symbolically complicit” in the “troubling supply chain.” The company indicates that it pledges to donate all revenues from the sale of the game to organizations that are fighting corporate abuses with the first donations going to SACOM – Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, a group that has been working on the recent Foxconn case. Phone Story is available from the App Store for $1. [via Hacker News]

Update: Perhaps not surprisingly, the developer reports that Phone Story has been pulled from the App Store mere hours after launch, indicating that Apple claims the app violates several App Store guidelines, notably “apps that depict violence or abuse of children” (15.2), “apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content” (16.1), a requirement that “apps that include the ability to make donations to recognized charitable organizations must be free” (21.1) and that “the collection of donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS” (21.2).


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.