*A short interactive journey from the comfort of our living rooms to Earth’s most toxic place.* This game is not optimized for mobile browsers. I'm sorry about this. [[Embark]] [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/firsttry_zpsfelmggkn.png" alt="where phones go" height="480" width="640" />->subheader]] *A living room, somewhere in London.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/WestminsterGR_zpsrj6dxjnp.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->London1]] Once again, it’s that particular time of the year and you are desperate. Ideas for presents never come easy to you and you feel the pressure to live up to your boyfriend’s expectations after having spoilt him so much in recent years. You pace up and down the apartment, gazing out into the fog that has covered the city, but nothing spontaneously comes to your mind. You can’t allow for another ruined Christmas like 2011, when your beloved partner was so disappointed by the leather-bound Charles Dickens collection. You consider the various options to avoid yet another disaster. [[Go online shopping.->online]] [[Go offline shopping->offline]] [[Call a friend.->Friend]]A friend in need is a friend indeed. You call Christine, she's such a rock in troubled waters and she also is the smartest shopper of East London. You tell her of your difficulties and she asks you in return what troubles you the most concerning your boyfriend's outer appearance. Well, that's an easy one. His awful old Sony-Johnson-Eric-Whatever phone, a clunky black block of plastic, that has an awful ringtone and is incredibly ugly. He might as well use a carrier pigeon! Christine advises on something new, possibly Korean, something decent, slim, fast, silver, but not the full alloy model. Again, you are in awe of her skills. So, Christmas is saved once more, this time by Christine, and Santa will deliver a little gadget and fashion upgrade. [[...->Xmas]](set: $online to 1) There's no need for loosing time in the stores, when everything can be obtained online and delivered straight to your doorstep. 45 minute laters, you have bought new shoes, a cute woolen hat with a fur bonnet and the collector's edition of 50 Shades of Grey for your mother. Entertaining, but pointless. (if: $offline is 0)[[[Go offline shopping.->offline]]] [[Call a friend.->Friend]] (set: $offline to 1) That’s it. Time to hit the streets. You put on your coat and descend into the madness of pre-Christmas inner city. You run through various stores, accidently buy the new Dior perfume, just to test it of course, fail to find something decent in a sports store, fail to make up for it at Body Shop and end up crying into your X-Mas Cinnamon Chai Latte at Starbucks. (if: $online is 0)[[[Go online shopping.->online]]] [[Call a friend.->Friend]] *The same living room, a few weeks later.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/WestminsterGR_zpsrj6dxjnp.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->XmasParty]]It's Christmas and you are unwrapping your presents! Let's see what your girlfriend got you this time. She's so considerate and spends always a good deal of December searching for the perfect present for everyone. Except for 2011 of course, those leather-bound books by Charles Dickens weren't exactly your cup of tea, but you were hiding your disappointment in the most successful manner. Under the green plastic tree there are three presents waiting on your side of the Christmas pile: [[a large blue box]], [[a small silver present]] and [[a plastic bag from Tesco]]. (set: $bluebox to 1) With glee you turn to the biggest of the presents, a long box, wrapped in navy blue with paddington bear prints. You rip the paper open and find a small collection of items inside. First a pair of socks, visibly holiday themed, with the toes being the nose of what seems to be a carp or a reindeer. Then more clothes, most likely underwear, under closer inspection, thermal underwear. Your mother is always so worried. The last part of the collection is a hat, again holiday themed, with antlers. You can add this one to the collection, you already have Santa's cap and a weird green hat with elf ears. You don't bother reading the card, it will be your father bragging about how much time and money he spend on this and how thankful you oughta be. Still waiting under the tree: (if: $tesco is 0)[[[a plastic bag from Tesco and ->a plastic bag from Tesco]]] (if: $silverpresent is 0)[[[a small silver present->a small silver present]]].Now, what could this be? It's compact, could be a case for shades and it's wrapped in expensive silver paper. You open it up in a slightly careless manner and freeze, once you see the logo of your favourite Asian tech company flashing underneath. Could it be? You carefully open up a bit more and your wildest dreams seem to have come true. It's not just your favourite brand, it's even the new model, not the big version, that the ordinary consumer embraced without much thinking, but the smarter version, the small one, with amazing battery life, a stunning screen and perfect proportion. The one that you wanted to buy anyway, but not before the sales in January. Best not to mention that right now. You give your wonderful, lovely and amazing girlfriend a look, that must be a mix of shock and happiness. „Time to throw that clunky old thing away now, my dear.“ she says and gives you a sweet christmas kiss. You decide to make [[an unboxing video]].(set: $tesco to 1) A plastic bag from Tesco. Who could this be from? Who but your brother would dare to defy the christmas spirit in such vile manner? You reach inside. Again, no surprises, it's a book. Will it be another Truther self publication about explosives on 9/11? Or a guide to sustainable living? You pull out this year's mildly insulting present by your shitty little brother, which is „Mao Zedung: The unknown story“. Could be worse, but unfortunately, it also couldn't be better. Still waiting under the tree: (if: $bluebox is 0)[[[a large blue box->a large blue box]]] (if: $silverpresent is 0)[[[ and a small silver present->a small silver present]]].Let's face it, your parents meant well and your brother ... not so much, but why should you care? You take your new treasure to your desk and prepare for yet another thrilling unboxing video, much to the delight of your girlfriend. [[...->recyclingplace]] *A municipal recycling center in the East of London* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/recyclingenterGR_zpsnoyhgy2h.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->recycling1]] It's friday afternoon at the city's recycling center and the weekend is almost there. The radio is playing the usual gargabe, but it's a delight that the christmas season is over and the radio is playing just the usual garbage, not the christmas garbage. You've been working here for 34 years here and you can honestly say, that the radio program hasn't improved in all those years. Well, at least you have enough seniority by now to choose which station to listen to, while handling the garbage of East London. There's plenty of trash from the holidays, people got their old junk replaced by new junk, which will become old junk and land in your yard in one or two years. You decide to [[take a look->theloot]] at this weeks loot.There's a whole container with trash waiting outside and you give it another look. The main bulk is as always washing machines and dishwashers, some older television, even some from the pre-flatscreen era, but those tend to get rare. In between a mix of printers, keyboards and desktop computers and then a whole shower of gadgets, mostly old phones. You see those clunky early smartphone models. People tend to keep the really old phones, the ones the simple display and the simple buttons. But no one wants to have an old smartphone these days, it's simply impractical and silly. The bell's ringing. Seem's to be today's last errand: a company picking up this week's electronical waste for recycling. You [[open the door]].You open the door and greet the guy from the recycling company. He's been here before, quiet type, bad teeth, should get a haircut, but who are you to judge, bald guys shouldn't comment on haircuts. He hands you the form for the transaction. You wonder, if you should [[just get on with it]] or [[have a friendly conversation]] for once. You could even [[enquire about their recycling business]].You don't feel too talkative, it's been a long day, so you just sign the form, watch him pick up the container with his two helpers and then exchange a brief handshake. And then it's weekend. Soccer. Television. Rest. Two days of heaven before it's back to the garbage. [[...->recyclingupnorth]]You help the guy with the paperwork and go out into the yard to supervise the loading of the container. You make a snide remark about his Chelsea blue sneakers, but thanks God, he's an Arsenal guy and not one of „those guys“. Back in your days, colour choices such as that one might have had grave consequences. You talk briefly with the lads how their company's doing with their part of the recycling, but as it turns out, they are just transport subcontractors. [[...->recyclingupnorth]]You always wondered, where these guys have their facilities, which must consist of smelters and other industrial machinery. But as it turns out, those guys are just transport subcontractors, that deliver the goods to an estate up North. It would be more sensible to do it right here, but work in the public sector is terribly unpopular with politicians these days. The lads aren't too interested in your political comments, so you just sign the form and let them get on with it. [[...->recyclingupnorth]]*A warehouse up North.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/warehouseGR_zpsjvlak15b.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->warehouse]]The last shipment's just about to be sorted into the various sections, but you are feeling slightly uneasy about reaching full capacity in the 2nd warehouse. As already mentioned on countless occasions, this could all be solved by stepping up the shipment program, but as usual, your nagging is not appreciated. Best to focus then on doing your work as flawless as possible despite being surrounded by chaos and ignorance. You keep on sorting through the electronical waste files, preparing yet another shipment of „charity“. It was your friend's idea to set up the „recycling facility“ and ship the material to other countries, but let's be honest, without your organisation, the warehouses would be bursting with materials and those shipments would go nowhere. You should [[check the available goods]].Ah, the Christmas season, always a great supplier. As usual old televisions, old desktop machines and of course an ample supply of cellphones. These are much better then the broken dishwashers or old washing machines, you get a good price for less material. You look over the possible sections and instruct some of the warehouse clerks what to put together for the shipment. Then you look through the files to figure out, where the shipment should be sent to and how it should be declared. Basically, there are three options: The city of [[Lagos->Accra]] in Nigeria, the Chinese recycling powerhub [[Guiyu]] and [[Delhi]] in India. The price might not be too great, when you ship materials to Accra or Lagos, but this is by far the most feasible connection, especially for raw matter shipment. What you will send today might look like re-usable materials, but you do know, that most of it is broken beyond repair. And that means, off to the smelter where the raw materials will be extracted with fire and acid. Nigeria is pretty much unbeatable, when it comes to cheap labour, but they aren't as good with the extraction as some of the other places. Nevertheless, that's today's pick. Time to [[declare the shipment]]. (set: $guiyu to 1) China was very hungry over the last years, but the landscape there is changing and you are not sure if you like it. There's more demand for materials that can be re-used and that means more work for your side. You have a look at the list once more and decide, that you might get a pretty bad price for what's available. Let's consider [[Lagos->Accra]] (if: $delhi is 0)[[[and Delhi ->Delhi]]]next.(set: $delhi to 1) One can always count on Indians, when it comes to recycling and re-using materials. But boy, those guys are hard business partners. It's like squeezing water out of rock. You check the list of goods once more and decide that most of it will end up as raw matter. Especially those old smartphones looked in pretty bad shape and will end up in a smelter. Let's consider [[Lagos->Accra]] (if: $guiyu is 0)[[[and Guiyu->Guiyu]]] next.You go through the usual procedures, which means, that you have to generate two paper trails. First, the shipment itself, which will be declared a donation of still functional material to a slightly fictitious NGO at the destination. Secondly, the „recycling“ procedure. Now, this is a little bit more complicated, but you have been over this already quite often. A few certificates, some charts, invoices of a smelter facility just far away enough to not bother the inspectors and it's done. Ready to go. You should really talk to your friend again, you are too good for the meager profit cut he offers you. [[...->customs]]*A cargo harbour on the East coast.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/portGR_zpsbkro8rji.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->customs1]]It's a gloomy night at the docks, but you have seen worse. Somehow the fog has a bit of that spring smell, that you claim to recognize, much to the amusement of your male colleagues at the customs office. But what do they know, you've been here longer than anyone else. They don't call you the Mother of the Docks for no reason! Every season has its own fog and this one tonight is a nice and fresh early spring fog. You are checking your list. It demands at least three more checked containers, randomly chosen from the thousands and thousands that are surrounding you. You make a small stroll, checking if there's anything especially suspicious, but since this is the export section, things are quite harmless. In a world like this, what harmful thing could come out of Europe? Now, things were different in those IRA days, you keep on telling that to the young lads. Anyway, three containers. How about those three over there, neatly arranged and coming in [[blue]], [[red]] and [[white]]. (set: $blue to 1) You open up the blue container, it's from one of the smaller companies and you found them always a little bit suspicious. Inside, you admire the neatly packed cargo, immaculate papers and ten thousand hand forged steak knives from one of Wales' finest blacksmiths'. It's heading for the US. Those Americans do both admire traditional craft and a good steak, so it seems like a sensible choice to supply them with welsh knives. What's left to do: (if: $red is 0)[check the [[red]] container,] (if: $white is 0)[check the[[white]] container,] [[call it a night]]. (set: $red to 1) You open the container, check the cargo papers and the materials inside. Now, this is not the most securely packed container and you make a note of that. Things might get damaged in a storm. Otherwise it's a pretty ordinary shipment. Special machine parts on their way to Asia, Mumbai to be precise. Your husband once explained to you, why they renamed it, but you forgot. Anyway, you don't see why India's hungry economy shouldn't get some high quality machinery from the UK. At least a sign that this country is still good for something. What's left to do: (if: $blue is 0)[check the [[blue]] container,] (if: $white is 0)[check the [[white]] container,] [[call it a night]].(set: $white to 1) You open up a randomly chosen white container, which seems to be heading for Nigeria. It's slightly chaotic, both the cargo and the papers, but it all seems to be for a good cause: An electronic aid frontier shipment heading for Africa. With all these new machines and laptops and washing machines with displays coming on the market every year, the old ones have to go somewhere. Why not to Africa? At least people might put them to good use there. What's left to do: (if: $red is 0)[check the [[red]] container,] (if: $blue is 0)[check the [[blue]] container,] [[call it a night]].*A backyard in Lagos.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/accraGR_zpszm9qpukk.png" alt="where phones go" height="240" width="400" /->workshop]]Business has been promising lately. It's the season for good shipments and you had an exceptionally high rate of devices that were still functioning or were easy to repair. You have to spend a lot of time in the workshop, but your wife is running the front store, while the kids are in school, so it all works out fine. Just yesterday you read, that Lagos is becoming an IT hub to Western Africa and it's mostly because of the shipments. Everyone knows, that there's a legal problem with them, but you can't complain, there is profit to be made and people get cheap television, computers and mobile phones. You are checking [[today's delivery]]. You look at a stack of boxes that came just in and start sorting through them. As usual you separate them into televisions and other large devices, which are easier to fix, computers, more of a challenge, and smaller consumer electronics, which would be profitable but unfortunately are really difficult to repair, since most components are glued together. You carry the televisions and computers to one side, fill the rest into a crate and carry it to your desk for [closer inspections]<c1|. { (click: ?c1) [At the end, you come up with a pretty good number from all sorts of generations, that you can still use. The rest, a bunch of battered smartphones, clunky older devices and completely ruined ancient devices from the 90ties, will have to be thrown out. You need to (if: $battery is 0)[check the [[batteries]] and] (if: $hardware is 0)[test the [[hardware]]]. ] }(set: $battery to 1) As feared, some of the newer models, most of them with broken screens, have the batteries glued in, those are of little use. There's a few models, where the batteries are still in reasonable shape, so you separate them from the others. If the hardware works, you might be even be able to sell them in the store straight away. Otherwise it's off to the junkyard. {Now you just need to (if: $hardware is 0)[test the [[hardware]].] (if: $hardware is 1)[ bring out the [[junk]].]}(set: $hardware to 1) You take a closer look at the devices, that still have a screen or the functioning remains of one and try to power them up. A reasonable amount of them are actually functioning and the rest you put through another round of test. {All that's left to do now is to(if: $battery is 0)[ check the [[battery->batteries]]] (if: $battery is 1)[bring out the [[junk]]].}The sun is setting and it's time to take over the store, so that your wife can take care of the kids. You clean the workshop and put everything that is clearly broken and beyond repair in a blue barrel, that you put outside for the pickup. Today it's mostly old cell phones and some printers, you are happy, that you managed to fix most of the rest. It will be picked up in the night and brought out to the scrapyards, where the leftovers are harvested for copper. You considered once doing this by yourself, but the fumes are unbearable and most likely quite bad for your health. Your neighbours would be everything but happy, if you would have a bonfire with burning plastic in the yard. [[...->Agbogbloshi]]*The scrapyards.* [[<img src="http://i1083.photobucket.com/albums/j400/Jorge_Luis_Juan_Hobmeier/agbogbloshie41_zpsa5sdotsp.png" alt="where phones go" height="324" width="500" /->Agbogbloshi1]] The sun is rising. Fumes from yesterday's fires are still rising from the ashes, but no new ones have been lit yet. Most of the others are still sleeping in a large group under the tarp, but you are always up early. Your lungs burn as if there was acid inside of them and you have a strange metallic taste in your mouth, which you try to wash out with some stale water that you bought yesterday. You are hungry, but if you want to eat, you need to work first. You look out over the ashes and blackened fields. Time to [[go to the collectors]]. Or you could [[get some water]] from the river. (set: $collectors to 1) Somewhere near the gates, you find a group of older kids and men with handcarts. There's a massive pile of trash, televisions, all kinds of computers, printers, a big xerox machine and countless keyboards, cables and smaller devices. The deal is always the same. Take what you can carry. Strip it and burn it. Give them the copper and you shall be paid a fair price for the weight. (if: $foam is 0)[You could take some of the trash now and get to work, but without some material to burn, you wont get far. Best to [[look around near the river->get some water]], maybe even get some water while you are there, and try to find something to bur.] (if: $foam is 1)[You use the foam to transport a large amount of mixed trash away from the collectors. They are really strict about the fires and they get really angry, if you start one too close to them. So you have to [[cover a good distance]] until you find a good place.](set: $foam to 1) You walk down towards the lagoon. The water smells awful as usual or at least you remember that it used to smell awful, you have lost your sense of smelling a long time ago. You hesitate to take water from here. It mostly ends bad and if you work for a few hours you can afford a large bottle of almost fresh water with your food. But there's some [dry foam]<c1| here, that you might use for the burning. Today might be your lucky day! {(click: ?c1)[ (if: $collectors is 0)[You pick up the large piece of foam and head back to [[look for the collectors->go to the collectors]].] (if: $collectors is 1)[You grab the foam. It's just the kind that you need and you can also use it to transport the material to your [[burning site->cover a good distance]].] ]}You drag the trash a little further and then start ripping up the foam to make a small pyre. There's not bigger bits of equipment, mostly small gadgets and you hope the fire will be hot enough to melt them. You look at your loot, broken printers, screens, keyboards, even a big clunky smartphone. Then you [[start the fire]].You set the pyre on fire. Thick black smoke is rising up. You get a metal rod to control the burning process. This will take some time. You have some extra foam, but it looks like the fire will be hot enough. Most of the new kids cover their eyes and mouths at this point of the procedure, but you are used to the irritation. Your eyes don't even blink anymore and your lungs are burning anyway, with or without the black smoke. Maybe one day, you could become a collector. But you are still too young for their work, they don't let young ones such as yourself do their line of work. You [keep the fire going]<c4|. {(click: ?c4) [You need to feed the flames for a few more hours. It might be noon now, but many fires are burning already and the sky is covered by black clouds. Then you let the smoking pile calm down and start to look carefully for precious metal. It's still very hot, so you have to be careful, but after a while you manage to scrape together a decent amount. You break some metal from the molten remains of a larger phone and then you are done. Time to [[head back to the collectors]] .] }You go back to the collectors spot. Most of their harvest from last night has been already distributed for burning and the first ones are already finished and trade their copper for money. You cue up and wait till it's your turn to [sell you scrap]<c2|. (click: ?c2)[An older collector is peering over your loot, picks out a few pieces of plastic and metals that don't belong and then weighs the copper. You get a good price and it will be enough for a good meal. Maybe even a watermelon. You run over to the market and [[buy some food]].] You eat your meal in the market next to the burning grounds, looking out into the black fog. Your head really hurts, but you should go back to the burning later on. Otherwise, you'll go back to sleep hungry feeling even worse. [[...->endn]][[*This is where phones go.*->endend]] A short story by <a href="http://www.causacreations.net" target="_blank">Georg Hobmeier</a>, editing and advice by Frances D'ath. This was conceived as a side project to our mobile game <a href="http://www.burntheboards.net" target="_blank">Burn The Boards</a>, a puzzle simulation about the struggles of an Indian e-waste recycling worker.