Sim Sweatshop (Online Game)

Posted: November 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

Year of publication: 2006

Type of example: Online single player simulation game

Director: Concepts, graphics and game programming by Jonny Norridge. Backend development by Gavin Courntey

Production company: Commissioned by NOW, Nottingham, designed by New Pollution

Page reference: Coakley, D., Johnson, J., Li, J., Mitchell, G., Saxton, J., and Weake, T. (2012) Sim*Sweatshop.

Availability: Online at



“Online game models harsh realities”

Lindsay Beyerstein, 2006

Here you can become a virtual sweatshop worker. You are invited to enter the world of the sports shoe-maker. The clock ticks away while you frantically try to put the trainers together. If you work hard you will be paid your full wage. If you make a mistake you will be punished accordingly.

Crewe, 2008

Player simulates being a worker in an overseas sweatshop producing sneakers for the American consumer. A role-playing game designed to raise awareness and help teach about economics and justice.

FUSE, 2012

Players have to frantically put together trainers as the clock runs down, using a pathetic wage to buy drink and food to stop their energy bar from disappearing.

Oliver, M., 2006

It teaches you the economic and social aspects of living in a developing nation, trying to make a living working in a shoe factory. You have to slave away doing 12 hour shifts just to put food on the table and support your family.  It is possible to save a bit of money and improve your condition, but in reality you are mostly living day by day.

Ecogamer, 2009

It’s about making at least three pairs of shoes in a certain amount of time. But you need to be careful about your energy bar in the top-right hand corner, if your energy bar gets low you will need to buy food or drink. You can do this by clicking the energy bar or by buying something when the warning comes up.

Nick, 2009

Throughout the game, the player is presented with options and situations via pop-up windows. These require reading, and refer to a variety of sweatshop related issues.

Larry Ferlazzo, 2008

It’s 4am. You’ve had 3 hours sleep and you last ate two days ago. You’re grateful for your hourly rate of 20 cents. But you’ll be forced to work more than you twelve hour shift if you don’t meet you quota of sports shoes for today. Your hands are raw from stitching leather to plastic. And you’re only thirteen years old. Sim Sweatshop invites you to play an interactive on-line game based in a sports shoe factory. But sadly you must first become a virtual sweatshop worker. You must make shoes against the clock. All your decisions have consequences. You can scrimp and save but you’ll have to top up your energy with food and drink.

Anabaptist, 2006

If you work hard all day (12 hours), you will be paid your full wage of $6.05. Making mistakes will cost you dear.

Miss Ellis, 2007

If money runs low, it is a struggle to buy food, and the shoes become blurry as tiredness sets in.

Lindsay Beyerstein, 2006


Simsweatshop is well researched and designed, and has a series of useful references with back-stories about workers’ lives.

Norridge, J., 2008

The rules are straightforward, although harsh; ‘A standard working day is 12 hours. Work hard to fulfil your quota and you will be paid your full wage. But if you make a mistake or fail to complete your quota your pay will be docked.’… In addition, what the rules don’t state are that you will be forced to work overtime without extra pay and when you are given the chance to form a union your employer hires a gang of thugs to beat you up.

Buttler, M., 2008

Periodically, you are asked to make decisions, like whether to start a union or work an unpaid overtime shift. The more you play, the more you realize that while you can get by for awhile, there’s really no way to “win.”

Lisa, S., 2010

The game gives you a bit of an insight into the hardships that these sweatshop workers face on a daily basis, and if you click on “What’s the Story?” there is lots of information about sweatshops, why they exist, the companies that use them, and what can be done about them.

Miss Ellis, 2007


I think that there should be laws against things like that and that we should be prepared to pay more money for things if it means that poor people in other countries get treated better.

Caitlin, 2007

Simsweatshop is brilliant and self-explanatory…

Jonny Baker, 2006

Today we had to play a game about making shoes and I don’t like it because it’s boring because every five seconds the energy thing pops up, its STUPID & FUSTRATING!

Daedrelog, 2009

Interactivity and public remembering via online simulations are more properly aligned, in the real world, to interpassivity and ethical amnesia than the forging of an effective ethical community of human beings.

Oliver, 2012-11-04

It is excellent but be ready to feel uncomfortable.

Gordon, 2006

Questioning whether it is the consumers’ responsibility to know where and how their items are made. Should we boycott all products not made in the West and watch how the terrible wages of the sweatshop workers diminish to nothing and they loose their job. It is not the customers fault or responsibility to find out.

Svenny, 2006

“Is it the responsibility of the consumer to know where and how their items are made?” Yes, I think it is, what an unbelievably complacent, smug comment. Get up and take the time to find out where and how the things you buy are made.

Juliecat, 2006

While it might be incredibly frustrating to play imagine if this was the reality of your life?!

Rob, 2007

Oh no! I got sacked because I was too hungry and tired from lack of food that I couldn’t continue to work!

Mazdak, 2010

Fancy living like that for real and not earning enough money to keep your family fed and clothed. Should make us appreciate the amount of effort needed to make a pair of shoes like that.

Miss W., 2009 – comments

I think this was a boring game.

Amy, 2007

When I played the game – in which joining a union can cost you your job I lasted the equivalent of three days before running out of money, food and strength.

Lindsay Beyerstein, 2006

Unfortunately, the majority of the gameplay consists of dragging and dropping shoe pieces onto a template and does not really contribute to any learning.

Larry Ferlazzo, 2008


The use of a game to spread information about the reality of sweatshop labour is particularly innovative, and we hope this game will pique the interest of a new generation of young consumers, currently being targeted by initiatives such as MTV’s initiative with Radiohead, and the BBC’s new ‘Thread‘ magazine.

Norridge, J., 2008

The game is boring. Could it be that it was meant to be this way? Sometimes work isn’t interesting, it is repetitive and dull, but you have to take these types of jobs to survive. There is also an empathy issue; can you put yourself in the boots of others?

Tony Cassidy, 2007

Perhaps it is a timely and appropriate way of trying to reach young consumers and inform them about sweatshops.

Oliver M., 2006

Obviously this game is going to be a big hit with the youth of Britain. I can see them now swapping online characters, staying up all night to finish the next level.

Rackaline, 2006

Simsweatshop is used to increase awareness of the appalling conditions many workers in the developing world face every day.

Oliver, M., 2006

Referenced/Further Reading

 Anabaptist, (18/08/2006) Life with Christ, Website accessed 28th October 2012,

Baker, J (23/08/2006) simsweatshop – worship trick 76 [second series], Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Beyerstein, L (17/08/2006) Alternet, Sims Sweatshop: Online games models harsh realities,  Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Buttler, M. (1/5/2008) The Sweatshop Game? Targeting Young and Ethical Consumers, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Crewe, L. (/1/03/08) Ugly beautiful? Counting the cost of the global fashion industry Geography, Website accessed 1st November 2012,

Daedrelog67 (17/07/2009) ); simsweatshop ;(, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Ecogamer, (05/06/09) Sweatshop Activism Game, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Ellis (04/03/2007) Geogtastic: Sim sweatshop, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Ferlazzo, L., (19/03/2008) Sim Sweatshop, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

FUSE, (6/1/2012), Sim Sweatshop: Simulation Game, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Gordon, (13/9/2006), Sim*Sweatshop…, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Jessiewya (17/07/2009) SIM SWEATSHOP GAME :(:(:(, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Juliecat, (17/10/2006) Sweat and tears: comments, Website accessed 28th October 2012,

Lad92, (30/8/2007), Sim – Sweatshop, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Lisa, S., (7/5/2010), Sim*Sweatshop and “Persuasive” Games, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Mazdak (20/03/2010) Sim Sweatshop, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Nick, (17/07/2009) Nick’s blog: Sweatshop simulation games, Website accessed 23rd October 2012, – comments

Norridge, J., (01/05/2008) New pollution, Website accessed 28th October 2012,

Oliver, M. (17/08/2006) Sweat and tears, Website accessed 23rd October 2012,

Oliver, S., ( 16/06/2012) Simulating the Ethical Community: Interactive Game Media and Engaging Human rights Claims. Culture, Theory and Critique. Website accessed 1st Novemeber 2012,

Rackaline, (18/10/2006) Sweat and tears: comments, Website accessed 28th October 2012,

Rob, (24/12/2007), Sim Sweatshop, Website accessed 24th October 2012,

Sharegeography (20/03/2007) Sim*Sweatshop, Website accessed 23rd October 2012

Svenny (17/10/2006) Sweat and tears: comments, Website accessed 28th October 2012,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s