Phone Story, an app by Molleindustria, portrays the lifecycle of an iPhone, with a bit of a political edge to it. It’s this edge that got it ejected from the Apple App Store only 3 hours after it was approved. It is a documentary in game format, following from the mining of Coltan in the Congo to dispensing of your heavy metal waste materials and polluting the world. To get the next part of the story you must finish a mini-game.
A narrator speaks behind each mini-game, relaying the relevance of that level to the stage of the iPhone life stage. The content that got it kicked was the overall judgment of Apple.
The truths told are a bit bigger than life, but they are indeed true. There are four stages of vile evil perpetrated by Apple on the unknowing public and Molleindustria’s Phone Story will enlighten your conscience. In short, you will be very uncomfortable when you finish this game. That is its design.
You start in the Congo mining Coltran. Your job as foreman is to scream at all the workers to increase productivity. If you stop, the app chastises you, telling you that you cannot escape your participation with passivity and that you are already guilty by owning a smartphone.
Next, you are maneuvering a safety net to catch suicide jumping factory workers from falling to certain death. It is a morbid level that mimics the Foxconn scandal in a Chinese factory. The workers at this Chinese factory produce many popular electronics for American companies.
On the third level you are in charge of an Apple Store, throwing smartphones to customers who are swamping you. You must get a smartphone into the hands of each customer. The narrator is guilting you with the emotions that drove you to purchase the phone in the first place. He tells you that you could see no traces of the suffering that soiled the phone in manufacturing. Finally, he reveals to you the hidden manipulation they used to force you to buy the phone:
“It was new and sexy. You waited for it for months. No evidence of its troubling past was visible. Did you really need it [the phone]? Of course you did! We invested a lot of money to instill this desire in you. You were looking for something that could signal your status, your dynamic lifestyle, your unique personality. Just like everyone else.”
If you miss a customer the narrator points out “You didn’t meet the goal. Don’t pretend you are not complicit.”
The fourth and final level takes you to the waste facility where the dangerous materials are fed back into the environment.
If you want to play it you will probably have to await the Android release or play it on jailbroken iOS gadgets. If you are one of the lucky few to have bought it within this thin window of opportunity, keep it. This is a collector’s game for sure.