Year Made: 2011
Platforms: Web Browser
Content Areas: Social Studies, Math
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 2-3 hours
Number of Players: Single player
Difficulty Rating: Easy
The use of sweatshops has been a hot topic in the past few years. However, sweatshops can be difficult for students to connect with or even understand given how far they are from most students’ experiences. In 2011, Littleloud developed Sweatshop, a seemingly upbeat and free game that places players in the role of a mid-level manager at a sweatshop factory. The player follows the story of their boss, who demands more and more results, and a child laborer, who hopes you will treat the workers better than their last boss did. As players juggle between meeting quotas and providing minimally safe conditions for workers, they also learn about the conditions of sweatshops and the precarious position they hold in some economies.
One issue to look out for is that there are a few raunchy jokes and some slight profanity in the game, but it only happens once or twice. The game also shows characters spurting blood when they are injured on the job. The injury is just as cutesy as the rest of the imagery though. Other than those two minor issues, the game can be played with both middle school and high school students.
Sweatshop is great for a social studies class discussing current events and an issue they have a direct impact on. The facts at the end of the thirty level and the questions raised through the storyline (e.g. “What happens to the child laborers that stop working in the factories? What are their options?) all act as starting points to further researching the topic, how it impacts a number of countries, and possible solutions to the problems of the conditions. Sweatshop also works well in a math class as players must budget their profits to purchase new workers and items. They also have to handle the strong emphasis on earning as much as possible. Students could create their own hypothetical company and try to devise ways to maximize profits while still maintaining a good work environment. Sweatshop is an opportunity for students to apply math skills to a real life issue and extend their learning as well.
In Sweatshop, current issues and an economic focus combine in this fast-paced, adorable game. Hopefully, there will continue to be more games like Sweatshop that allow students an easy access point to a current event that affects them just as much as they and other consumers affect it.
Educational Rating: 7/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)