Mario, Luigi, and Slavery – Walk Free Calls Out Nintendo

Is Nintendo doing enough to make sure that conflict minerals don't end up in their products?

Is Nintendo doing enough to make sure that conflict minerals don't end up in their products?
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When you think Nintendo, you probably don’t think slavery.  But according to Walk Free, an anti-slavery organization, Nintendo products utilize “conflict minerals,” which are minerals from countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are mined using slave labor.

Walk Free claims that Nintendo products – specifically electronic devices – are made in mines in the DRC, and that they are mined by men, women and children that are often forced at gunpoint to work.  Walk Free, who is labeling this campaign for protest day as “Slavery is Not a Game,”  alleges that Nintendo has not even done the minimum required to avoid conflict minerals.

“While many big electronics companies have already taken steps to get rid of conflict minerals in their supply chain, Nintendo has yet to join the electronics industry audit program for conflict-free smelters nor has it required its suppliers to use only conflict-free smelters – the bare minimum requirement for taking action on conflict minerals.”

Conflict minerals found in electronics equipment include tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. Some of the funds from these slave mining operations are being used to fund war atrocities in the DRC. According to an earlier article by Kotaku: “The link between gaming consoles and these blood minerals are so close that some refer to the decades-long conflict in the Congo as the Playstation War.”

For its part, Nintendo has said that companies that manufacture the 3DS, Wii and Wii U have promised to not use conflict minerals, and have “obtained individual confirmation from each production partner that they agree not to use conflict minerals.”

According to a report by the Enough Project, on a list of 24 major consumer electronics company, Nintendo ranked dead last in their attempts to end the use of conflict minerals in their products.  They stated that “Nintendo’s statement is a meaningless piece of paper without concrete steps behind it.”

Walk Free is hoping to get Nintendo to audit their supply chain, thereby reducing the risk of using minerals mined from slave mines. Walk Free has made a video featuring Mario and Luigi discussing Nintendo’s use of conflict minerals, and have asked activists worldwide to dress up as video game characters and personally deliver messages to stores selling Nintendo products.

Nintendo, known for such family friendly fare as Mario and Zelda, probably doesn’t want to be associated with something as dire as war and slavery.

What do you think of Walk Free’s activism? 

About the author

Amanda Wallace

Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.