Playstation 2 – the death of innocents?

July 25, 2008

Tantalum capacitor - new Blood Diamond?

Tantalum capacitor - new Blood Diamond?

I should probably already be in bed but as I logged on to do a final email check, I came upon this interesting article. I am very surprised by this as I’ve never taken the time to understand what actually goes into making “western electronics”.



That being said, I feel like slapping Ex-British Parliament Member Oona King upside the head with a PS2 rumble controller for delivering lines that are nothing more than undeserved sensationalist speak. Quoted, he said, “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.” What kind of thing is that to say? Do you want the world hating young American and European gamers now? I can see a Leonardo DiCaprio role reprisal now. And, furthermore, why doesn’t Japan get mentioned in this “throw-the-kids-under-the-bus” statement?

Also of note, reviewing the release titles for the PS2 (this is apparently when the run on coltan hit its highest), I don’t see a single game that revolved around killing aliens. I bring this point to bear not to discredit Mr. Oona King, but to show the still sad state of what the world at large thinks of video games. If they’re not causing children to want to pick up prostitutes in cars or kill police, then they’re about killing aliens (I can only imagine Mr. King’s idea of the PS2 is one of an arcade machine for Space Invaders 2).

Still, all the misconceptions aside, this is bad news. I’m not sure what the Xbox and the Wii use that allowed them to fly under the radar of this article, because it seems that many electronics nowadays use the tantalum capacitors. Read this article for more info on the usage and specs than you probably ever wanted to know.

3 Responses to “Playstation 2 – the death of innocents?”

  1. I’m sure the XBox and Wii are using tentalum as well. The question lies in where they are getting it from.

    I thought the story was interesting because it illustrates how often times the commodity consumption of developed nations can have moral implications for people in poorer parts of the world. (See also: the diamond industry)

    Cell phones, laptops and gaming consoles are all fine and dandy. It’s perfectly appropriate to enjoy the convenience and other benefits that come with these things. Make all the PS2’s you want. I’ll keep buying.

    But at the same time, I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t be encouraging manufacturers (with our voices, votes and dollars) to make ethical decisions on their supply side in order to help raise the standard of living for others.

    Had more companies refused to buy coltan from pirate militia groups, and instead shifted their attention to suppliers in good legal and ethical standing, maybe there wouldn’t have been as much bloodshed. Maybe children wouldn’t have been be taken as prisoners of war and shoved down mineshafts.

  2. drewmcgee said

    I fully agree with what you’re saying here, but look at the length of time it takes for information like this to come to the attention of the consumer. 9 – 10 years later is way too late to realize that you should be encouraging Company A not to obtain their raw materials from a certain source. Company A should be ethical enough to do their own due diligence on where there materials are coming from, but apparently, that is asking too much.

  3. There is something else we can do.

    Sen. Brownback and Sen. Durbin have proposed a bill that would “prohibit the importation of certain products that contain or are derived from columbite-tantalite or cassiterite mined or extracted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

    If this bill were to pass it would force companies to get their coltan from creidble sources if they wished to sell their products in the U.S.

    You can sign a petition voicing your support for this legislation here

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