Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

July 11, 2008 -

The PlayStation 2's requirement for a rare metal in its manufacturing process helped fuel a bloody, decade-long conflict in Africa's Democratic Republic of Congo, according to an investigative report on Toward Freedom.

The site alleges that demand for coltan by Sony and other personal electronics manufacturers led Rwandan troops and Western companies to exploit the people and mineral resources of Congo, with children often forced to work in mines.

Oona King, a former member of the British Parliament, told Toward Freedom:

Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms. 

So, what is coltan? From the report:

After it is refined, coltan becomes a bluish-gray powder called tantalum... [which] has one significant use: to satisfy the West’s insatiable appetite for personal technology. Tantalum is used to make cell phones, laptops and other electronics made, for example, by SONY, a multi-billion dollar multinational based in Japan that manufactures the iconic PlayStation...

Researcher David Barouski commented:

[The] PlayStation 2 launch... was a big part of the huge increase in demand for coltan...  SONY and other companies like it, have the benefit of plausible deniability because the coltan ore trades hands so many times from when it is mined to when SONY gets a processed product, that a company often has no idea where the original coltan ore came from, and frankly don’t care to know. But statistical analysis shows it to be nearly inconceivable that SONY made all its PlayStations without using Congolese coltan.

A Sony rep told Toward Freedom that the company now takes steps to ensure that it does not use coltan illegally obtained from Congo in its manufacturing processes.


Comments

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Because I have a very, very little tolerance for stupidity.  Honestly, I've seen enough stupidity in the last 3 months to last me till my dying day.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

And I have very little tolerance for willfull ignorance.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Seriously?  OK, less then 1% of all electronics is a lot of fucking electronics.  There's something else that's important to note, but you might want to slow down because here it gets complicated.  See, of all the materials coming out of the Congo (or any conflict area) 100% of it is being sold to the Western world and 100% of the money is going to violent regimes.

It's not Sony's job to verify that?  Fuck that.  If you produce a product that you know has a component that comes from a conflict area then you need to know where the bits you're getting are coming from.  Here's something else to think about genius, the mineral isn't that rare.  Like you said only 1% comes from the Congo so how hard could it be to get it from somewhere else?  Pretty god damned easy.  Want to know why these companies buy this shit from conflict regions?  Because it's cheaper.  They're getting a deal so they can pass the savings along to you or, more likely, pad their own profits.

And you think that figuring out where these materials come from is like finding out how many people have used the money in your wallet?  Are you honestly being that stupid?  I seem to remember other posts where I thought you were reasonably intelligent but I must have been wrong.  Money is a means and is created to be traded so of-fucking-course it's going to be passed through many, many hands.  That's why we have money.  Metals and minerals are an ends that are used for a purpose and go through a finite number of hands.  If you give a shit about your fellow man then yes, you can find out where the materials came from.

To dismiss conflict in Africa as, essentially, a bunch of uncivilized tribal morons battling it out is not only fucking stupid but it's naive.  Where do you think these people get the money to engage in these massive, violent wars?  They don't pull it out of their asses, they get it from the West.  Why do they keep fighting?  Sure, tribal history plays a part but when it comes down to it these wars are over resources and money.  They sell the resources to pay for ever more extravagent ways to kill each other so they can get more resources.  You want to support that?  You think that it's OK for companies you do business with to give those people money?  You think it's "too far removed" and therefore "not our problem?"

If it costs Sony, or any company, more money to ensure that the materials they're using aren't coming from conflict regions and they therefore need to tack a few bucks onto the cost of my PS2 or cell phone or car or TV or whatever else you mentioned then I don't have a problem with that because a HUMAN LIFE is more valuable to me then my PS2 or getting a good deal on a cell phone.  If you want to pretend that everything's OK because it would be too difficult to do anything about it and thereby feel good about yourself then be my guest.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Alright, since you're too stupid to figure this out, let me explain it easily.

SONY DOESN'T BUY IT DIRECTLY FROM A COUNTRY, THEY BUY TANTALUM FROM A DISTRIBUTOR, WHO BUYS THE TANTALUM FROM ANOTHER COMPANY THAT TURNED COLTAN INTO TANTALUM, WHO BOUGHT IT FROM A COMPANY THAT BOUGHT IT FROM A LOCAL MINING COMPANY THAT TOOK IT FROM CHILDREN.  THERE ARE MANY, MANY FUCKING STEPS, AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE IT CAME FROM ONCE YOU GET BEYOND STEP THREE. IF YOU THINK YOU CAN TRACK THINGS LIKE THAT, THEN YOU'RE A COMPLETE FUCKING JACKASS.  IT'S NOT LIKE A BULLET, YOU CAN'T TURN IT OVER AND SAY 'OOH, ITS GOT A CONGOLESE STAMP, I CAN'T BUY THIS'. THE WHOLE MONEY THING WAS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW HARD IT WAS TO TRACK ANY ONE THING TRAVELING ANYWHERE.  THANK YOU FOR MAKING IT PAINFULLY OBVIOUS THAT YOU ARE A DUMBASS.

As for Africa, if they don't have money, they hold food ransom for more weapons.  The money didn't all come from the west anyway, a good portion of it came from USSR during the Cold war, as well as the US during the cold war.  If we didn't buy their shit, they'd still have the guns that the UN leave there (they don't bring their guns back from Africa, they are left there).  I'm sure that since you've been to Africa four times, you know better than me.  Oh wait, I was talking about myself.  They are a brutal and greedy group of people for the most part, and they are the ones holding the whole continent back from being able to come into the 21st century.  They fight not only over resources, but everything.  If no one bought from them, they'd still fight over cities just to say that they had more land, even if the land was barren.

 

 If you want to pretend that its possible to track those things, I suggest you take any product you own and try to find out exactly where all the parts in it came from.  You can't, just like they can't, so deal with it, go bitch about something else, and learn about the real world.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Bullshit they can't ensure they're getting their products from non-conflict zones.  It's not impossible, it just requires social responsibility and a little effort.

Indeed, four trips to Africa covers the geopolitical situation on the entire continent.  Those must have been very long, tiring trips for you then.

I hear you on the left over weapons from the cold war and the UN's unfortunate habit of leaving gear behind.  Thing is, though, that shit, even the AKs, doesn't last forever.  We keep funneling money in there and and they can keep buying new weapons and repairing old ones.  Seriously, do you think that their capacity for violence would be nearly as immense if they didn't have modern weapons?  Also, there are a few key components of modern warfare that are consumable, like ammunition and fuel.  All those cold-war era guns aren't going to be too useful without bullets and it's tough to get bullets unless you pay for them.  But hey, if you feel better thinking that Western money doesn't have any impact on the level of violence in Africa then knock yourself out.

The truth of the matter, for me, is pretty simple.  I understand that there's going to be violence in parts of the world.  It's human nature.  If they want to fight then they can fight.  Here's the thing, and this is important so pay attention, I don't want my money going to arm their conflict.  If you don't care that you're helping to finance a war then that's OK.  If you want to delude yourself into imagining that there's nothing you can do then and therefore remove from yourself any responsibility then, again, have at it.  Personally I don't accept that. 

Companies can figure out where the materials that go into their products come from, whatever you might choose to believe.  As you said, it's only 1% of the coltan that comes from the Congo.  Ensuring that suppliers don't get any of their materials from that region wouldn't be difficult.

I wouldn't have bought a PS2 when they came out if I had known that there was a possibility that a component came from a conflict area, just like I wouldn't buy a conflict diamond.  Why does that piss you off so much?

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

"It's not impossible, it just requires social responsibility and a little effort."

Bullshit on that.  It would require Sony to figure out how to buy the coltan, where to buy it, how to turn it into Tantalum, and then to do with it what they already do.

Four trips to Africa can cover the geopolitics of pretty much the whole fucking place.  It's not that different from one conflict to the next.  And any trip to Africa is tiring.

AK's last for years, and there's a steady supply of them still left over that haven't been used yet.  You can go to Africa and find Ak's for sale everywhere you turn.  There's ammo there that is 40 years old, and somehow all the leftovers from all the Cold War battles and all the UN failures (and there's a lot of fucking UN failures) end up in the hands of militants.  Would their capacity for violence be as immense without modern weapons?  I dunno, you should go to Rwanda and ask the guys who butchered others with machetes over the simple fact that their noses were smaller than their oppressor's.  As for ammunition, the whole African continent is LOUSY with 7.62 rounds because NATO uses them (G3 and all its forms) and Russians used them (Aks and all the similar forms).  Its also not hard to get 7.62 ammo, especially when there's a man down the street selling it who you could kill and take his 5000 rounds.  Would they still fund it without evil western dollars, pounds, and euros?  Yes, although they'd do it through theft rather than purchase. Or they'd get people with money and an axe to grind (Arab families, for example) to invest in their groups like one would invest in a stock. Aside from that,  I don't think you understand quite how many billions of rounds of ammo are in Africa.

Actually, the fact that less than 1% comes from the congo makes it hard to track.  It's not sold from the Congo, its sold from Rwanda, South Africa, other nations, after it is mined and moved across the borders. That first step makes it extremely hard to track in the beginning.  After that, it passes through many hands before Sony even sees it, and so unless they hired their very own paramilitary force to watch the Rwandan border and all other bordering nations, there's no way of knowing when the coltan is Congolese and when it actually comes from that country of origin.  By the way, private military groups for hire that work for companies outside of US operations tend to be very vicious and brutal people themselves, more given to a 'fortunes of war' attitude.  

By the way, if you own diamond jewelry made between  1999 and 2008, chances are pretty good that you own a blood diamond. 

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

OK, this isn't going anywhere but I'm going to mention a few more things.  There are three nations in Africa where coltan is produced - Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Congo.  Any coltan purchased from, as you suggest, Rwanda, would clearly be conflict coltan.  Figuring out where the coltan came from wouldn't be difficult.

Sony themselves wouldn't have to be in charge of production from mining to PS2, rather they would have to either deal with suppliers who ensure that the coltan isn't conflict coltan or purchase it from a source that gets it in, for example, Australia which is the largest supplier.  I'm not suggesting that Sony hire paramilitaries to track the entire process, that's obviously completely idiotic.  The way these things usually work is that the company at the top requires that their suppliers meet certain requirements.

Company A produces a high tech device and that device uses capacitors.  When they take bids for the contract to manufacture the high tech device they have, as part of the bid, the requirement that the capacitors come from a source that doesn't use conflict coltan.  Company B bids for the contract and wins.  Huzzah!  Now, when they get the capacitors for the high tech device, they contract that out and when they take bids they, also, have a requirement that their capacitors aren't built with tantalum that's made from conflict coltan.  This goes on down the line until you get to the guy who produces the tantalum.  They're contractually obligated to use coltan that doesn't come from a conflict source.  OK, sure, they may be able to get a better deal from some shady Rwandan but they know that if they do, they're fucked because they'll risk losing a lucrative contract and future contracts.  THAT'S HOW THIS WORKS.  What I'm saying is that Sony and other companies need to start the process.  It's not that complicated.

I know this will work.  Do you know how I know this will work?  It's quite simple - I know this will work because companies are already doing it.  That's right, companies are already working to ensure that the coltan they use does not come from the Congo.  Sony is, in recent years, one of those companies. 

So, to reiterate, I know that it is possible because it is being done.

AKs last forever and they're easy to build and maintain and there is a lot of ammo in Africa, but the amount that's readily accessible to fighters in any given conflict region is limited.  It's not as easy as killing the guy who has the ammo and taking it.  If it was, why the hell would anybody pay for it?  Funneling less "evil" western money into the region (and seriously, "evil" money?  Who the hell do you think I am, some dumbass hippy kid?) would substantially reduce their ability to access the tools of war.  Suggesting that "they'd get money to buy guns anyway" doesn't make it OK for a company to trade with them.  As someone who clearly has ties to Africa, why wouldn't you strive to do anything to reduce some of the killings even if only temporarily?

And yes, again you're right about the people who butchered others with machetes.  They, in fact, used whatever they had at hand including farming implements, rocks, sticks and their fists.  They use rape as a weapon on a regular basis and clearly I'm not suggest mass castration.  Yes, they are still going to fight but a dozen villagers with AKs is objectively more dangerous then a dozen villagers with machetes.

In all honesty I do not understand the problem that people have with my assertion that I would not have purchased a PS2 if I had known that there was a chance that conflict coltan was involved in its production.  The same goes for other electronic devices.  It's important enough to me that I will make the effort to ensure that the companies I buy electronics from are the companies that are already ensuring that their coltan comes from non-conflict regions.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Your theory on any coltan from Rwanda being from the conflict has a few problems;

1.  Coltan distributors don't live in the war-torn areas.  South Africa, Rwanda, places with more comfort and slighlty higher intelligence as a whole are places where they sell it out of.  They ship it out of the war torn areas to an area of safety from which to sell it.  That doesn't mean that they're taking it from war-torn areas just because it's shipped from Rwanda, South Africa, etc.  Because of this, by the third exchange of Coltan from hands to hands, its become near impossible to track.  Any tracking is pretty much guesswork at this point, unless hands #1 (The original purchaser of the Coltan from Congo or Rwandan General) is willing to come clean with helping to continue a mining operation that forces children to mine instead of fight wars.

2.  Many companies shift things throughout, and will sell to their competitors at inflated prices if the demand is there.  For example (a very small scale one) Say I need 2 tons of Coltan, and have one, while my competitor has 8 tons to spare.  I will buy that 1 ton for at least Price and a Half, and that will help me to meet the demand from my buyers, who may need more for their new line of TV's, or their new PS2 production, or whatever.  Now, there are a few possibilities here.  I could have purchased, unwittingly, laundered coltan that came from the Congo (it all looks the same once its out of the ground, trust me).  It would now be mixed in with my original ton, that came from, oh, Ethiopia or Canada.  I would have to track their original shipment, and figure out where it came from (near impossible even at this point). 

When you say companies are doing it, do you fully understand what they are doing?  For the most part, they're threatening to stop buying from Companies that don't mine it from non-African nations, and if they buy from African Nations, they're threatening to stop business if they suspect its from the Congo.  What this does to Africa is makes it a poorer continent, which, while not necessarily a bad thing, will lead to infighting over the Coltan that they can't get rid of.

 

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

See?  I KNEW there was a reason why I felt so good getting a GameCube instead of a PS2!  :)

 

Seriously, though, this whole "Sony kills children with its 'insatiable' thirst for coltan" thing seems tantalyzingly (did I spell that correctly?) transparent.  Let's think for a moment: Sony says that it'll take steps to ensure that it doesn't buy illegally-obtained coltan for use in its PS2s?  Psh.  Sony isn't going to put that at the top of its priority list no matter HOW much bickering human rights activists do.  Sorry, guys, but that's the way of the world.

This smells of shock-effect to me, meaning that this whole human-rights crusade against Sony and its ilk is merely a way of bringing the world's attention to the suffering in the Congo.  Is it effective?  Maybe.  Is it right?  Depends on your information.  How do you know that Sony was involved in the 'war' in the Congo?  Seems like circular reasoning, doesn't it?  It's like taking a piece of candy, putting it in a baby's hand, and then declaring war on the kid's parents because you gave the kid candy.  Sony isn't at fault here, the government in the Congo is, and the sooner human-rights groups turn their attention from finger-pointing and rabble-rousing to positive change for the future, the sooner events like Darfur and the Congo can end.  Education is the key.

I hope you all were able to follow my train of thought there.  Sorry if I lost you. >_<

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Fun fact, countrys that have names stateing they are the peoples or democratic tend not to be, the fact that this happened in Congo, isn't surpriseing

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Frankly, this won't affect my buying of anything. Sure, there's a chance that the tantalum in some of my products is from an illegal source, but since less than 1% is "bad" and there's no way of knowing which ones are bad, it's silly to say a certain product shouldn't be bought. Electronic companies buy the metal (or in some cases, the transistors/whatever) as cheap as possible, and of course it will happen that some of it will be bad.

Here's an example: My neighbor had the copper-power-thingys stolen from the side of his house. Odds are the copper is going to be sold to a vendor that buys copper to be remade into other things (makes money, duh). The stuff we buy with copper in it may be, in part, from my neighbors house! Not buying copper products just because of the fact that some of it is illegal, however, is silly.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I have used Tantalum (Ta) during the course of my PHD, this has certainly made me think twice. Helps that Ta is the hardest metal I have tried to e-beam evaporate bar none.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I'm in agreement here with those who say that this report is little more than a guilt trip and a lot of the accusations are misplaced, and for a lot of the same reasons that others have said.  First of all, if you don't buy it, someone else will.  Boycotting - which is essentialy what that piece recommends - in this case wouldn't work.  Not only because of consumer ignorance, but because there are many other electronic devices that use the material in question.  I know someone who joined a group on Facebook called "Boycott Chinese Products."  The logic used there is the same as in this piece and it's equally flawed.

I also agree with the poster who said companies for the most part may not be fully aware of where the material used in the manufacture comes from.  Are they equally to blame?  Are the retailers like Best Buy or Target for selling it?  Am I to blame because I bought it, even though I wasn't aware of it at the time?

I'm sorry, but I refuse to beleive that either my PS2 or my Xbox 360 for that matter are "blood consoles."  And that I am a guilty party when in reality I am 10 or more steps removed from actual culpability.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Can't say that I feel personally guilty or responsible for owning a PS2 or other electronic items. However, this is good information to have. While it may not seem to do much if one person says that will boycott an item for moral or ethical reasons (which most likely means you wouldn't have much stuff these days), organized pressure on businesses can make some difference. If Sony changes its practice regarding the purchase of tantalum in fear of bad PR and lost business, so much the better. It's this kind of knowledge that makes it possible for consumers to ask for choices and to find items like Fair Trade coffee or "dolphin safe" tuna.

Oh, and if more powerful nations continually attempt to fix things for poorer nations, well there are plenty of examples where that might not always work out. Invading the Congo would fix nothing and create only new problems and would be morally suspect. The world is much more complex than "we have to spread Democracy and Capitalism", much to our dismay.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Hmm. Okay, having thoroughly read through the story, I gotta say, it seems that the blame is quite misplaced. Instead of bitching at consumers or the companies that unknowingly use the blood stained resources, why not direct more anger at the actual exploiters? Actually, why haven't there been more attemts by the more powerful nations to knock these bitches out? That way they could have the resources without having to pay these assholes so much money. I don't know. I just hope that someday soon Africa's (and every other third-world's) workers rise up and slaughter these bastards. It's clear that voting and peaceful protest won't work over there.

 

-If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we'd all be livin' large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

pointed out an important fact, coltan is not the material used, tantalum is.  And from what little information I've been able to gather the Congo is NOT one of the main sources of this material, Australia is.

I do not object to people trying to draw attention to the plight of people in Africa, though I can only shrug and shake my head because I see no answers there.  My objection is to the unspoken implication that this is the ONLY source of this material and thus every piece of electronics you own might as well be dripping blood.  That's not a good way to raise awareness for this issue, it only makes people angry and resentful.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

So we should feel bad that the Africans stopped killing each other for NO reason long enough to make a profit, and then went back to killing each other without reason?

That's how business is conducted in Africa.  This is an everyday thing, and its not Sony's job to investigate, its the job of the people who attain it firsthand.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

This is so typical of the politics of blame and guilt practiced by some. Discover a wrong then find out who you can blame and make to feel guilty for it (and by so doing, socially blackmail cash out of them for some feel-good cause). Yes, it's terrible and tragic. But I blame the tribalistic xenophobic hatred that permeates much of the world, not a demand for a item.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

The referenced wikipedia article about coltan notes that the Congo supplies only 1% of the production of the mineral.  That's not even enough to be a relevant statistic in blaming the world for Africans wanting to genocidally eliminate each other.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

 These comment s are kinda suprising and a little disgusting. Usually Gamepolitics seems to me at least to be better than the internet at large, but not in this case. i mean most of the comments seem to be along the lines of ''How dare they say that video games are even remotely connected to anything bad!" Or " Their stereotyping us!", or ''i don't have to feel bad because they would die anyway!" The article never says that it isn't used in other materials, the playstation and gaming consoles are mentioned, yes but more as an example of how technology impacts this region in a unique way. So settle the fuck down people. 

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

While I can concur with you on some of the more acerbic comments on the forum being rather tactless, your words carry a bit of heat as well.  The article aggressivly pushes the idea that the release of the Sony Playstation 2 platform was the sole driving factor in the increased price of tantalum, and by proxy coltan.

There are few other electronic companies mentioned.  The mining companies that engaged in the actual practice of child labor, like Eagle Wings, have taken a rap on the head over the matter or gone belly up.  I would like to see more voracious placement of data (the article is a little lacking in names of 'experts' that point to the playstation 2 launch as a viable reason for the increase).   A comprehensive list of these companies would also be nice, but pointing fingers at the larger swath of companies does tend to lend validity and creedence moreso than appearing to pick one out of the lot (noted there is a full list on pages 87-90 of the RAID report).

I would like to point out a statistical irony that has been addressed here and re-enforced by the numbers on the RAID report.  Those who would bang their shoes on the podium about how the western civilization is exploiting Africa, and doing grevious amounts of harm to the continent might enjoy taking note of of the fact that of the 111 companies that are charged in the RAID report as commiting some ill deed, 38 of them (or 34.2%; over 1/3) are based in either South Africa, Zimbabwe, or another South African nation.  Suddenly it appears not so much to be an issue of evil international corporations as the neighbors taking advantage of a rather nasty situation...also, Belgium shows up quite often.

The launch of the Playstation 2 sold a little over 500,000 units in the first day, with roughly 1.3 million sold by Christmas of 2000, and 3 million reaching American shores prior to March 31rst 2001.  Now, I hate to pick on numbers, but 1.3 million and 3.1 million seem to be far, FAR below the "hundreds of millions" that would deem an increase in demand that would jack up the price in such a manner.  I would like to humbly suggest that the launch of the Sony Playstation 2 platform, while a major economic function and consumer of the spoken of elements, was not enough to realistically drive the price up to such an inflated level.  Hence, calling terrible series of events in a long and ongoing politico-racial malestrom "the playstation war" is erroneous, and singles out a manufactuer when there is blood on plenty of hands.

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful. Edward R. Murrow

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful. Edward R. Murrow

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

A little lacking in names and details?  How about "devoid of that which is necessary in making a fair and balanced accusation"?

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

This is sincerely the most asinine kind of "anti-fanboyism" I have ever seen.

Tantalum is used in all microelectronics.  This has nothing to do specifically with Sony.

The story is a cold revelation about the seamy underbelly of the electronics industry.  But it has nothing to do with games.  This shoddy story isn't even worthy of Slashdot.  It certainly should be beneath GamePolitics.

 

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

BTW, I don't give a fuck about fucking Africans.  They're already fucking insane and already probably would have died by hitting themselves with a fucking rock because Africa is so fucking miserable.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Holy crap, man.  0_0

I can sympathize with your frustration, but they ARE human.  And humans err.

Anyway, nuking the shit outta Africa won't do anything for our humanity, much less America's global image right now.  I'm not gonna be the one who pushes the button.  Will you?

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I fail to see this as my problem.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I actually feel sorry for Sony in all of this, because it is most likely (and this article, full of anti-capitalism and anti-gamer tones, admits this) that Sony has no idea. They buy the metals from a wholesaler, or a parts manufacturer. Until the subject is broached, nobody has a reason to think "Gee, I wonder if children DIED for these materials?"

And now, suddenly, they're being accused of indirectly starting a WAR. That's worth a spit-take.

Among all the facts being brought up here about Coltan availability and whatnot, it seems clear that this article has an anti-gaming prejudice. What's up with this rhetoric? "Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms" not "Children were being forced to do hard labor to provide metals for Sony's products." You're pointing the finger at children, who may not even make such purchase decisions, instead of the individuals forcing the labor, or importers who don't care who they do business with. It's very sloppy and unprofessional journalism. What kind of organization is this?

The only people worthy of blame in this incident are the people who exploit others, and governments too impotent and corrupt to prevent such blatant abuse of their own people. I'm not going to pretend that my game consoles killed anybody.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Well said.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I think most of us can agree that the consumer isn't at fault for things like this, unless you look at it from some kind of utilitarian or deterministic standpoint maybe. If people are outraged by something like this, instead of not buying electronics they should try to publicize these issues and raise awareness. The ones at fault are the ones forcing children into labor.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I am very tired of the people at the top of the food chain taking the rap for what a bunch of scumbag middle-men do in the name of profiteering.

Sony didn't send those kids into a mine and neither did Nokia or any other manufacturer that uses this physical raw material to build a device.  The people running the mines did.

Don't boycott technical manufacturers - get THEM to boycott the Congo.  Or - if you have the means & want to be altruistic - then go there & buy the mine outright & run it better.

Ooops - if you did that - you would be killed and ownership would revert to the state because you would be cast in the role of a "horrible Western investor who is there only to exploit the people" when in truth the people are already busily exploiting the living hell out of each other.

When will the countries of the world start taking a hands-off policy on Africa and allow them to clean up their own messes?  Simple.  When there's nothing left there to buy from them.  Handing money to the people in charge there for ANYTHING is just pouring proverbial gasoline onto a bushfire of human rights.

Authority and Morality are diametrically opposed on that continent.  Sad by true.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Damn. This is fucking brutal. I gotta say, I'm NOT shocked. I was aware that a lot of items have parts that come from third world hellholes that were probably produced by child workers. Yet I still bought a Playstation 2 and later a Xbox 360...damn...this is fucking brutal.

-If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we'd all be livin' large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Wow that can make you feel like a pile of shit right there.

It's scary to think what products of convenience we enjoy are built on the backs of the suffering. Sad to say it's not something that often crosses our minds, nor something our media, corporations and countries want us to think about.

Also one would wonder if it's a rare ore and it's so important to electronics development wouldn't someone have figured out how to create it synthetically by now?

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

"It's scary to think what products of convenience we enjoy are built on the backs of the suffering."

Not really. The cold hard truth of it is that economics requires someone to be on the bottome. In America there will always have to be someone making minimum wage in some shit-hole fast food place, retail store or factory. In third world countries there will always be someone getting 'exploited' in order to gather and refine resources for as little as possible. You shouldn't feel guilty for being on the top, you should feel lucky.

On another note, as it's been mentioned here several times, Africa is a mess. The Messiah complex so common among the American left today would have us believe that if we all just band together and do something we can save the word. The reality is that you can never control other people's behavior. It's unfortunate that Africa seems to have an abundance of blood thirsty tyrants, but we can't do anything about it; the people of Africa have to stand up for themselves.

 

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

This is very old news and nearly all companies that works with electronics uses Congolese coltan and they all deny it. It is also used on oleoducts. When children aren´t forced to work in the mines they are forced to join the army it is a no win situation.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I call BS.

I find it really hard to believe that with ALL the miniture consumer electronic products we and the rest of the world use that the PS2 launch, or any SINGLE electronic launch has a significant effect on the numbers.

Add in that there are hundreds of companies that probably use metal from the same sources and even blaming Sony is a bit ridiculous.

I never expected to see sensationalist media on GP but I guess there's a first (and hopefully last) time for everything.

We as consumers need to decide, either we accept that our selfish desire for all of life's luxuries doesn't always come without a serious moral pricetag, or we stop buying the newest greatest toys. Pick your side.

A perfect world would be nice, it's also impossible.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

"A perfect world would be nice, it's also impossible."

Too true. How about this though.

The Utopian paradigm is only ever just a hope and a dream away. So be quiet and go back to sleep.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I don't mean to sound cold or selfish, but I can see the anti gamers latching onto this and not letting go. It won't be about the children working in the mines, it will be about them getting certain games removed by having the console removed.

WIlling ot bet Nintendo and Microsoft are also looking for new sources as are other companies.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Responding from their PCs, laptops, PDAs, and cell phones that require televisions, PCs, DVRs, etc. to view which all require this rare metal?

Even your car has a computer in it made of this stuff which makes it hard for the anti-gaming community to take the high road on this.

-Loudspeaker
"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Hypocrisy never stopped them before.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Also, I do have a few electrnic devices I use in my home, my most recent being my new cell phone, and it's not like I grinned evily when I got it thinking "I wonder how many kids died ot make this thing?" No, I need a communications device and it works, that's all. Most people who use electronic devices shouldn't feel guilty as there is NO way of knowing where exactly all of the materials in the device came from. It's not liek a big tag is o nthe box saying "All material were purchased form legal sources."

Consumers shouldn't feel guilt ridden over where a material came from, as we don'y control the manufacturing directly.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

If it wasn't the rare metal, it would've been something else.  If it wasn't Africa, it would've been some other country.  It's not that I don't care what happens, no matter what it's over or where it is, exploitation of children is wrong, period, no exceptions.

The problem is that the rest of the world just goes into shock for a bit when they hear about it, they stop buying whatever it is that's in question, then everything kinda fades away, then some other commodity that sells for a crap load of money gets found someplace, and the children get exploited again.  Then there's violence and wars and everything else that comes with that territory, then somebody finds out about it and tells the world, then world goes into shock over it, rinse, repeat.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

WAIT A SECOND!

Why are they singleing out the PS2? Apparently this is used to make capacitors for a LOT of products:

"...ranging widely from hearing aids and pacemakers, to airbags, GPS, ignition systems and anti-lock braking systems in automobiles, through to laptop computers, mobile phones, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras."
So, no word on you CARS causing this bloody war? Shoot, looks like half your car has this stuff in it.

So before they start trying the gaming guild trip, remember that this stuff is used in a lot of stuff, and if you don't want to "support" it then I expect you to be moving to Ahmish country... but you better be walking.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Actually you wouldn't believe how much modern tech is seaping into the Amish comunity. More and more are using modern advances. Like a buggy with safety lights and a stero system setup that you would see at car shows. All being driven by a 19 year old Amish with an Iphone. Nice huuh. I think that was a report on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

 I'm not even slightly bothered by any of this, but not because I'm some cold, heartless internet ethug or anything like that. Africans will kill and enslave each other over anything. If we all stop buying personal technology, and buying bananas, or coffee, they will kill each other over bananas and coffee. You send them food aid and technology to improve their potable water, they will kill each other over that to. Why? Because Africa is f-ed up.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

As sad as it is, I agree completely. The only way for Africa to get better is if they all grow up. We can intervene all we want, but no real good is going to come of it...

I'm warning you now, there are some generalizations coming up, and prove me wrong about something if you see an error.

African couple has barely enough food for themselves.       So they have 4, 5, 6, 8 children.

We give them food, so instead of a few thousand malnourished (sp?) people, there's 10's of thousands of starving people.

I'm not one to bash on cultures, and would rarely call any culture backwards, but some things about some African cultures are stupid, some things stupider than any other ancient or present cultures I've seen

Again, I'm sorry if I offend anyone or if there's anything really wrong about my post, but I'm just going off of what I've heard and seen about Africa, I've never actually been there

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I learned about this in my science class. It's something called demographic transition. Third world countries with high death rates (most of africa for example) pretty much always have high birth rates because the children die and they need to children to help out. The only way the birth rate goes down (besides something drastic like mass sterelisation) is if the death rate takes a plunge. Technology and better medicine help make the death rate take a plunge but the way Africa is going...

The theory (I think it's a theory) goes that EVERY country either has gone through or will go through this process.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I've been, and that's a pretty accurate description.

You send them money, they buy guns.

You send them food, the warlords fight over it while the average African starves.

You send the UN, they kill the UN.

You send AIDS medicine, they fight over that.

They find out that something in their country is worth money, they fight over it.

Africa is probably the greediest shithole in the world.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I don't know weather to agree or dissagree with this. But one thing is right. Fighting will continue if we buy coltan or not. Someone will find something to be greedy, envious or just plain angry over and start a war over it. It's happened before in the past and will continue into the future. Either way though a child shouldn't be taking the place of a grown man working in mines.

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

I agree with this completely.

~You Could Be Mine, But You're Way Out Of Line..~

~You Could Be Mine, But You're Way Out Of Line..~

Re: Report: Rare Metal Fueled African "PlayStation War"

Gah, I can't type :( Sorry, for the typos. That should say "single out", "high capacity" and "very good"

Anyways, saying that tantalum is used in the manufacture of these products is a bit misleading. Maybe Sony produces capacitors itself, but if not, the tantalum is used by capacitor manufacturers whose products are then bought by Sony and co. I also suggest to never buy television sets again...

 
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Wonderkarpthough not strictly games. I have Lightsabers mounted on the wall, and on a shelf you'll see the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ocarina of Time, a Sith Holocron, and some of my Ghostbusters Props11/22/2014 - 8:57pm
Wonderkarpswag of all kinds, Andrew. I'm trying to build a game room as impressive as AVGNs nerd room. I'm also trying to build a coffee table/storage space shaped like a NES Controller11/22/2014 - 8:55pm
E. Zachary KnightI need new controllers for my Gamecube. Its not everyday you can get brand new 1st party controllers.11/22/2014 - 8:51pm
Andrew EisenPredominately figurines or swag of all kinds?11/22/2014 - 8:37pm
WonderkarpI would like a new gamecube controller....but I also just like gaming swag....11/22/2014 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI'm just waiting to buy a new Gamecube controller for my Gamecube.11/22/2014 - 7:15pm
Wonderkarphttp://kotaku.com/smash-bros-gamecube-adapters-sold-out-online-prices-g-1662162871 Smash Bros Gamecube adapter sold out, online prices go nuts11/22/2014 - 6:50pm
Andrew EisenI bet there's a lovely comedy of errors surrounding that list's journey to the IGDA's page!11/22/2014 - 6:49pm
Andrew EisenAnd the fact that it was curated by some random person on Twitter should have been another.11/22/2014 - 6:48pm
Andrew EisenYep, it's pretty clear that whoever at the IGDA grabbed that list, didn't look at it first. I think the fact that there's over 10,000 names on it should have been a bit of a red flag.11/22/2014 - 6:44pm
Wonderkarppenguin books is on the list. wow.11/22/2014 - 6:43pm
Wonderkarpthats better, though I'd prefer something a little more than a simple tweet, I'll take it.11/22/2014 - 6:37pm
Andrew EisenKate Edwards' Twitter: "like people, tools are imperfect; we've removed it for now."11/22/2014 - 6:35pm
Andrew EisenHard to say with any certainty but it appears it at least understands the tool didn't do what it thought it did.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
WonderkarpI've yet to find the IGDA responding too the situation other than deleting a link.11/22/2014 - 6:34pm
Matthew WilsonI hope the IGDA understands why its a mistake, that's all I want.11/22/2014 - 6:33pm
Andrew EisenHeh, lawyering up would be grossly overracting! And really silly. Well, if what the IGDA did say was not enough for you, try contacting them and letting them know how you feel.11/22/2014 - 6:31pm
Wonderkarpall I want is an apology from the IGDA. nothing fancy, not even addressed to me. Just something that says, "We messed up. We're Sorry" thats it. Not exactly those words except Sorry. If I was overreacting, I'd be lawyering up.11/22/2014 - 6:29pm
Andrew EisenI get it, I just think you're taking it the wrong way and overreacting.11/22/2014 - 6:27pm
Wonderkarpatleast Matthew understands why I am miffed at that list11/22/2014 - 6:26pm
 

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