In the United States, we tend to get wrapped up in our own abhorrent capitalist practices because, well, we’re the best at it. But we forget that ruthless capitalism is a world-wide disease, infesting the planet with hypocrisy and Marxist nightmares. Tesco, a supermarket chain ranked as the 2nd largest retailers in the world, encapsulate the evils of capitalism in the UK, with humanitarian issues ranging from selling their customers horse meat to failing to pay their workers minimum wage that gets subsidized by tax payers (costing them an estimated £364million last year).
Tesco has been at the the center of the UK’s debate over living wage since the government adopted a plan to raise it from £6.50 an hour to £7.20 for those over 25. Implemented to mitigate the government’s significant cuts to welfare, some reports have found that rather than helping lower income families, the new policies will actually cost families hundreds (if not thousands) per year. It would appear the Conservative party has attempted the play the old switcheroo trick on the UK’s population in a national game of Find the Lady where, instead of finding the queen playing card, you’re trying to survive and have enough money to eat.
But big corporations like Tesco don’t need government help screwing over their workers. They already do plenty of that on their own. Because while the supermarket giant refuses to pay its workers the basic cost of living, they send their failed executives off with £1.2 million lump sums and a pension of about £14million. The company’s policies have been so egregious, in fact, that even shareholders are raising a fuss. Presumably more concerned with the supermarket chain’s record annual loss of £6.4 billion this past year, shareholder Michael Mason-Mahon attacked the board at a meeting back in July. The Daily Mail reports that he went as far as to call Tesco “a cancer on our society because you keep the poor, poor. This is not right. Slavery was abolished… The new slogan should be ‘Tesco: we do not pay Living Wage but we do reward our executives for failure and make them multimillionaires.'”
Though Tesco’s antics are depressingly flagrant, they are in no way surprising. As customers and citizens, we know that when we shop at Tesco or Walmart in search of those scintillatingly low prices, we also take part in a larger evil. The price we pay as customers is less monetary and more ethical, giving up pieces of our soul for discount chicken (which is probably discount rat meat). Meanwhile, the person scanning and bagging your rat meat pays an even heavier price, forced to work for the company not out of choice or the promise of low prices, but out of necessity. The measly wage companies like Tesco provide their employees not only leaves them in horrible living conditions, but also wears on their very spirit.
In the voxel world of Chesto, you play as a cashier working checkout at a large supermarket corporation with some familiar-sounding employee policies. Everything about the design of the checkout mechanic is cumbersome: the food drifts off, floating away from your grip; you must scan every single item individually (meaning you must find the tiny little bar on every strawberry); all the while corporate and a timer at the top of the screen are breathing down your neck. While you scrimp and scramble trying to reign in all the food bouncing around the conveyor belt, corporate likes to pop in to assure you that it will not be paying overtime for the work you don’t finish in the allotted hours. Customers prove equally unsympathetic, commenting on your slowness and raising a fuss when their runaway cucumber lands on the floor.
At the end of each day, you’re given a report of your measly earning which is always “just barely a living.” Unless, that is, you’re fired altogether for “costing the company too much money.” Meanwhile, Chesto boasts the amount it made off of your hard day’s work by directing you to the corporation’s website. They’re nice enough to demonstrate clearly just how much you’re helping their numbers soar, implicating you in their capitalist super villainary. But, Chesto’s website assures, this is a company who “can always be trusted to do the right thing” and only “employs the best people, develops their competence, provides opportunity and inspires them to live our values.”
The creators (Josef Wiesner, Felix Bohatsch, and the Broken Rules studio) don’t specify how they calculated the profit margins featured on the graph, but their accuracy in recreating the average wage of a Tesco employee most likely indicates their numbers are depressingly close to reality. The more players that log in hours working at Chesto, the more their numbers grow. They’ve even got a phony voxel CEO, pictured in all manor of luxury like sitting behind Nicki Minaj at a fashion show or taking red carpet snapshots with Kim Kardashian. What was the new slogan that Tesco shareholder suggested? Oh right: Chesto, we can pay you minimum wage, but we do reward our executives for failure and make them multimillionaires.
You can play Chesto online for free on Mac, PC, and Linux.