Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Ethical Game Shopper

I sometimes wonder about all those plastic soldiers in Memoir 44. I really appreciated the fact that I did not have to remove them all from a sprue before I could play the game - but there must have been a sprue once. You can't make plastic soldiers without a sprue, right? So someone must have painstakingly and carefully taken them off their sprue, one by one, countless thousands of them, day after day. Who did this tedious and finger-hurting job for me? I guess it was someone in China, I wonder if it was a man or a woman or (God forbid) a child? I wonder what sort of room they worked in, was it properly ventilated, with decent toilets available? How many hours a day did they work? Did they get regular breaks? Were they allowed to belong to a union?

There are other things I would like to know about the games that I (so obsessively) collect.

All this paper, cardboard and wood, is it made from renewable forests, or even recycled pulp? Where is it made? Is it made in a way that minimizes pollution of the air and the water? How toxic are the paint, ink and bleaching agents used?

How much carbon is released during the manufacture of these games? What about their transport from cheap manufacturers in the East to their markets in Europe and North America? I want to know about game-miles as well as food-miles.

I want to know if the workers who made my games had security of employment, a fair wage, union representation, and reasonable working hours?

On these criteria I suspect that North American wargames (with their ethically dubious themes!) would probably score more highly than many Euros (with their more innocuous themes) which I suspect are often manufactured offshore in order to provide all the pretty bits we love so much at a price we are willing to pay for them.


Chris Farrell said...

If you're going to worry about these things (which seems like a good idea), I think there are a lot bigger fish to fry. Your house, for example (or the building you live in) probably involves more wood than the total of every game you'll ever buy in your lifetime. If you could ensure that the next house you buy, or that is built in your neighborhood, was built from sustainably-cut timber, that would make a huge difference.

Jack said...

It's an interesting question. I'm self-publishing a game at the mo, and while I was able to source 100% recycled greyboard to construct the tiles and box from, I despair about the amount of waste I'm generating. I'm recycling what I can, but lots of it can't be recycled again due to the lamination. These are the things that keep me up at night.