My Cotton Picking Life

How long will you spend picking cotton in this exploration of child labor in Uzbekistan?

This game comes originally from a news article on the Guardian website that reported on the scandal of cotton picking by kids in Uzbekistan that are used to make clothes, supplied to people in the west. This is about forced labor – the kids are taken out of school and forced to work:

Uzbekistan, one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, forces adults and children as young as nine to pick cotton under what the charity Anti-Slavery International describes as “appalling conditions”. 

The kids are given quotas per day to meet (up to 50kg) and if they don’t meet these can be punished. To compound it all, Uzbekistan has an appalling human rights record, according to Human Rights Watch. We also looked at this article on the BBC and this video on This is from Anti-Slavery campaign’s website (used as a source for the research):

The government of Uzbekistan closes down schools across the country and children, teachers and other workers are forced to work on the cotton fields with little or no pay. Each child is given a daily quota and can collect up to 50kg of cotton a day. Children who fail to pick enough cotton or those who pick low-quality cotton are punished with beatings, detention or told that their grades will suffer. Children who run away from the cotton fields, or who refuse to work, are threatened with being expelled from school.

So what we wanted to do with this game was to give a glimpse into the monotony of that job – something you as the player can end any time, unlike most of the people forced to do this work. However you can take action!

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  1. Jack

    I want my 13 cents !

  2. Ruud

    I do wonder what happens if a player actually manages to pick 50 k’s worth of virtual cotton. You ought to send them a gift certificate!

    For those of us lacking the mental fortitude to spend 5+ hours of our life to finish this game, can you give any hint what happens when the quota is met?

  3. Joe Blow

    I grew up on a Cotton Farm and still farm cotton today. Before you make a judgement on how hard it is to pick cotton you need to do it. 50 Kg of cotton is not very much. That is one to two cotton sacks, trust me I have pulled a cotton sack before. I believe every kid should spend their summers in a cotton field. Then just maybe they would grow up to make something useful.

  4. Thanks, I hope you did not take that comment to be meant too meanly.

    As a farmer I would like to point out everything I have heard about this Uzbekistan practice does not necessarily fall outside of farming norms, but when it becomes nationalized and industrialised it does have a far bigger chance to become scary and oppressive.

    In every farming culture, regardless of if it is north america or the UK 30 years ago of Uzbekistan today, when harvest time comes everyone goes out to the fields and helps. Because there is no other alternative. But I also think it is great for children to get out of the classroom every once in a while, and learn physical activity, community, and work ethics.

  5. Author

    I’d be interested to play your game, post a link here when made! Tomas

  6. Specifically: This game makes me what to write a game to bring attention to the unhealthy and lonely life of the computer game developer.

    Who spends long monotonous hours in dark cave like rooms, slouched in front of a small screens pushing buttons all alone. Who has no friends, no sense of community or no societal obligations, and become less heath and active. And at the end of all this work, they have not even produced anything physical and necessary.

  7. As a farmer this game appears somewhat offensive to me.
    Some people enjoy farming, others like sitting in dark rooms clicking buttons all day.

  8. Cool! Together with some friends, we also made a game about the cotton industry. It’s called Cotton Inc, and it starts in a shop where you’re selling clothes to customers. From stage to stage you follow the cotton back to its source, where you play as a child picking cotton in an endless field. I’d be interested to hear what you think!

  9. Author

    We had to take a bit of gamic licence with the art in it. Thanks for feedback.

  10. t

    I think you mean “quotas” in the sentence – “The kids are given quotes per day to meet (up to 50kg)”

  11. Timur

    The authors of the game could ask somebody who knows how the process of picking cotton actually looks in real life. The bag is between knees, and the “cotton tree” just 2-3 feet height. 🙂

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