In a Permanent Save State invites players to reflect on suicide at China’s most infamous tech factories.
Foxconn is a word we all recognize for one horrible reason: Over the past few years, a total of nineteen workers have committed suicide while employed by Foxconn factories, with an understanding that factory working conditions were at least partly to blame for the pain felt by these workers. These factories produce components for various pieces of tech, including video game consoles, that form increasingly important parts of our lives. In an attempt to get consumers to really think about what all of this means, independent developer Benjamin Poynter has released an iOS game that invites players to move through artistic interpretations of the afterlives of seven of the nineteen Foxconn suicide victims.
Available now for iOS, In a Permanent Save State has grand artistic and philosophical ambitions. Its iTunes listing says that, “The interconnected narrative [In a Permanent Save State] tells sheds nameless perspective upon the Western spectacle vs. the Eastern dream. Furthermore, has a root in cultural truisms which define the aesthetic and faith for those involved. There is an effort made to deconstruct these notions and the video game form itself. Those who assemble the dreams of this world now have their own at a devastating cost.”
It’s an intriguing idea, and its slightly detached, philosophical bent should ensure that it won’t get booted from iTunes like Molleindustria’s iPhone manufacturing game Phone Story. Poynter has described the game by saying that it “serves as a memorial and return of the Western Dream back to the East from where the ideal of spectacle of home entertainment is possible.”
The game is being released in tandem with an exhibition created by Poynter that poses similar questions. Do you ever wonder if one of the suicidal workers had a hand in creating your phone or your laptop? It’s an incredibly uncomfortable thing to think about, but it’s important that we do. If games like Phone Story and In a Permanent Save State encourage more people to do that, well, more power to them.