The fun and exciting game about global capitalism and outsourcing! Take charge of Lietch Industries™ and explore the many ways to make profit while providing the public with a Grade “A” quality product!
I came up with the initial concept for the game and after we divided the labor, I took a step back from creative responsibility and took on the task of learning python Ren’Py code. I never coded before so most of my time was spent learning the different ways to build stories and splits within the stories to get a visual narrative across. In between coding I consulted on some of the game decisions to make sure we kept the end in mind. We would have liked to make our story a bit more intricate and detailed but time didn’t permit that for us as most of us had responsibilities outside class. All in all, I took everything and translated into what is now Outsource Frenzy.
My name is Jason Vego. I am the co-writer for the Outsource Frenzy game. I wrote the content for the situations and options that coincided with pleasing Gourmand and Associates (the investors). I also developed the character background for Kimberly, primarily using the book Richard Zweigenhaft and William Domhoff’s book, “The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies”. I also did research about the outsourcing location options, which aided us in choosing India as our outsource location for the game demo.
Though I have no specific experience in game writing, I have professional experience in creative writing, website writing, journalism and business writing. I used these skills to create the emails from Mr. Malum, the Factory Manager, and Gourmand and Associates, the investors. In addition, I wrote the content for several of the News Article quotes. With my background in writing, the content of the game accurately and sufficiently emulated the writing that would be used in a real communicating during outsourcing.
I am the second co-writer for Outsource Frenzy. I was responsible for writing the portion of the game that favored the workers. I had no prior coding or game-making experience, but my role on the team was important because of my background in Global Studies. I had previously studied the complexities of the issues presented in the game and I did my best to make sure our game addressed the proper issues in an inclusive manner.
My job with this game was the images. Since Outsourcing Frenzy was going to use Ren’Py, a very visual based game program, we had to find a lot of pictures to use. Initially I thought it was going to be easy since I could just Google and find what I wanted, but Amanda told me that I had to watch what images we used. A lot of images that we found turned out to be copyrighted and we couldn’t use them without the owner’s permission. So I had to spend a lot of time finding appropriate images from open source sites, which is obviously more difficult since the image pool is far more limited.
The concept came from a documentary entitled “Zoned for Slavery” that was created by the National Labor Committee to raise awareness on the sweatshops in Central America utilizing child labor and other unethical labor practices to mass-produce the products that we consume. One section in particular highlighted the use of ads that are sent to American companies to attract business to their sweatshops. The ad features the name of an employee and how much their labor is up for hire, however, the reality of the situation is that the employees are usually teens being paid below the cost of living, the speaker in the documentary does a great job at summarizing it as a “corporate agenda designed to be a race to the bottom” in which companies “pit American laborers with third world children working for low wages.” This “corporate agenda” is actualized through lowering wages, reducing labor standards, reducing environmental standards, and raising work loads. These factors set the foundation for the game and mold the decision that the player must make in order to advance through the different levels. The game will be a dramatization of the consequences of abusing human rights and environmental standards. Through this we hope to emulate the mechanics presented by the documentary.
Additionally, we took some inspiration from Antiwargame in that it pushed its procedural rhetoric in gameplay by providing positive or negative reinforcement depending on what decision was made financially to support the business sector. The same mechanics are at play in Outsource Frenzy with our investor characters. One post-development note, we definitely could’ve provided negative feedback on the contrary in our game, after our presentation we noticed that we really pushed the player to abuse their workers. Lastly, we took the mechanics of Plague Inc. and integrated them in our game by providing a detached experience in gameplay to try and simulate the effect of working in the corporate world.
We created Outsource Frenzy in order to raise awareness of the systemic issue that plagues capitalism, and specifically, manufacturing. The constant pressure felt by businesses to lower production costs lead them to outsource many jobs overseas. The increase in production factories overseas pressures factory owners to lower production costs as much as possible in order to attract foreign clients, often times at the expense of the factory workers.
We attempted to create the described systemic pressures by including assertive investors (Gourmand and Associates) that encourage you to lower production cost, while keeping the player relatively in the dark about the working conditions in the factory.
The original idea was to not have an avatar and make no mention of the playable character. The game was to act as more of a business simulation game with interactive choices coupled with an intricate feedback system for the player’s actions. This model posed a problem when it became apparent that not all CEOs have the same experience running a company. An Asian American woman running a company, for example, will have a much different experience than a White male. With this in mind, production of the game was altered to incorporate four distinct playable characters.
The four playable characters are; a White male, an Asian American female, a Latino male, and a Black female. For the purposes of our demo however, we chose one playable character (the Asian American female) due to the limited time and resources available to our team. Because we chose to work with only one character, we were unable to portray the different social and professional experiences that each character might face.
Ideally players would be able to choose from a number of countries such as India, Chile, Indonesia, Estonia, Singapore, China, Etc. Each country would give the player a different experience based on working and economic conditions in the area. Since the company, Lietch Industries (a battery pack company), is predetermined, the country selection would act in lieu of a difficulty setting. Choosing a country that primarily deals with garment and textile products would be more difficult than choosing a country that has a strong tech market, like India, or China.
For our demo we chose to limit the country choice to India, because of its highly educated work force and specialization in technology manufacturing. For the purpose of the demo, India allowed us to focus on the systemic issue of capitalism and it’s pursuit of cheap labor without the distraction of outsourcing to a country that is not conducive to technology manufacturing.
Two Game Paths for Demo
The two paths of the game are the investor’s heavy path and the worker accommodation path:
Investor’s Heavy: During the game, the user is pushed to please the investors. When the user pleases the Gourmand and Associates, the user receives some negative feedback from Mr. Malum, but it does not seem that pertinent. As the user keeps pleasing the Gourmand and Associates, it makes the user think that he or she is winning the game.
Worker Accommodation: As mentioned above, the user feels like he or she is losing as the workers are continuously accommodated and the investors are not. Mr. Malum sends some pleasing emails, but Gourmand and Associates send very angry and dissatisfied emails that the user must deal with. It feels like the user is losing the game as he or she continuously accommodates the workers.
There are three components of the feedback system:
Email Feedback: Emails were used throughout most of the game. Whenever a situation arises, the user will receive an email. For example, when the workers were passing out from heat strokes, Mr. Malum emails the user and explains the situation. Based on this email, the user can make a decision on whether to add air conditioning, insert some fans, or do nothing. After choosing one option, the user receives another email, either from Gourmand and Associates or Mr. Malum, expressing their feelings about the user’s choice.
News Articles: During several occasions, the user is given the option to read an email or read a news article. The news article hones in on one quote. The news articles are sometimes very relevant to game play, and sometimes not so relevant. For example, one news article says “Flu virus is spreading throughout India but most of the population doesn’t have access to flu shots. Hundreds of deaths are expected this flue season.” The flu never becomes an issue within the game, so this was an irrelevant article. Other articles address situations that will arise in the game, for example, the article about workers committing suicide.
Satisfaction Meter: The two sides of the satisfaction meter are the investor’s heavy side and the worker accommodation side. When the black bar is bigger, it means that you are pleasing the investor’s more, and when the red bar is bigger, you are pleasing the workforce more. The game pushes the user to please the investors, but if either bar becomes too big, the user will lose the game.
If you chose to play our demo of Outsource Frenzy, please note that all playable choices are marked with a period(.). Choices that do not have a period are dead links and are not playable.
“An Overview of Working Condition in Sportswear Factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.” ITGLWF. International Textile Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation, n.d. Web. 12 May 2013.
Arnold, Denis G. “ ‘Exploitation’ and ‘The Sweatshop Quandry.’” Business Ethics Quarterly 13.2 (2003): 243-256. Philosophy Documentation Center. Web. 13 May 2013.
Bhosale, S.T. “IT Services in India: Present Scenario.” Golden Research Thoughts 1.6 (2011): 1-4. Web.
Delsol, Christopher. “10 Epic Fails When Outsourcing To India.” Christopher Delsol 6 February, 2012. Web.
Eisenberg, Deborah Thompson. “Money, Sex, and Sunshine: A market-based Approach to Pay Discrimination.” Arizona State Law Journal 43.1 (2011): n. pag. Web. 14 May 2013.
“Industryplayer Business Strategy Game.” Shareware Connection. n.d. Game 10 May 2013
Leung, Rebecca. “Out of India”. CBS News 11 February 2009. Print.
Niedermeyer, Edward. “Swiss Environmental Study Finds EV Battery Production Impacts Outweighed by Operation Impacts.” The Truth About Cars. 2011. Web. 9 May 2013.
Parkin, Simon. Sweatshop. Little Cloud, 2011. PC. http://www.playsweatshop.com
Statistic Brain. Job Outsourcing Statistics. 20 July 2012. Web. 8 May 2013.
“Top Outsourcing Countries.” Sourcing Line – Independent research on top IT companies. Sourcing Line. n.d. Web. 11 May 2013.
Vaughan, James. Plague Inc. Ndemic Creations, 2012. iOS/Android App.
Witkowski, Terrence H. “Antiglobal Challenges to Marketing in Developing Countries: Exploring the Ideological Divide.” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 24.1(2005): 7-23. American Marketing Association. Web. 13 May 2013.
“Zoned for Slavery.” Online Video Clip. Institute For Global Labour And Human Rights. Youtube, 2 Apr. 2007. Web.
Zweigenhaft, Richard, and William Domhoff. The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011. Pint.