Sometimes when games, public opinion, and big business collide, the results can be toxic. A few weeks ago, iOS developers Pop Sandbox released Pipe Trouble, a mobile and web game that uses familiar Pipe Dream gameplay mechanics and adds a layer of relevant social commentary. The game was partly funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, which uses taxpayer dollars to fund art and popular media projects. But now, Canada’s oil lobby is slamming the game for being “clearly one-sided”.
We played Pipe Trouble for a recent Under The Radar article, and found the game to be a well-crafted and humorous take on a major issue of our times. The goal is to build a pipeline while keeping it under-budget (using fewer pieces) and without damaging the environment (building over tiles containing trees or animals). If you cause too much damage, groups of protesters will arrive with signs to further obstruct your pipe-laying plans.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, a lobbying group for oil producers, isn’t amused. They’ve released a statement to Canadian media blasting the game for wasting taxpayer dollars and promoting illegal protests. According to news reports, $10,000 was put towards the game’s development through TV Ontario, Canada’s public educational media organization.
Pop Sandbox has rushed to defend their game against accusations that their game promotes “eco-terrorism”. In a press statement, they say that the game “has been the victim of rampant misinformation” and that they have decided to no longer send proceeds from the game to the David Suzuki Foundation, an environmental group.
To address the controversy, a review board has been established by TV Ontario to decide if the game falls within their programming standards. Meanwhile, if you don’t mind controversial subjects and want to support this fun game, you can purchase Pipe Trouble for iPad for $1.99 by clicking here.