Security Officers React to “Dream Crusher”: An Online Game that Sheds Light on Growing Income Inequality in Silicon Valley

“While I usually enjoy the problem-solving aspect of video games, I grew increasingly frustrated with Dream Crusher because I knew that it was more than just an unbeatable game. It’s my real life,” said Ben Ortiz after playing Dream Crusher, a new interactive online game in which players put themselves in the shoes of a Silicon Valley security officer struggling to make ends meet.

Security officer Ben Ortiz plays Dream Crusher on his phone

Security officer Ben Ortiz plays Dream Crusher on his phone

Since 1999, Ben Ortiz has worked several service jobs in the tech industry but never escaped the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. “Whenever I thought I had settled into a decent job where I could better provide for my family, my position was eliminated,” he added.

Today Ben works as a security officer for a large Silicon Valley company, a job that offers inadequate wages, expensive out-of-pocket health insurance costs, and no paid sick days. Just the other day, Ben fell ill but couldn’t afford to call in sick because he risked falling behind on his bills. He feels that these are the type of tough decisions that Dream Crusher captures so well.

With the amount of prosperity that has blessed Silicon Valley as of late—built on the back of workers at all levels of the tech industry—it is alarming that so many still struggle to scrape by. Tech giants like Apple and Google that have experienced tremendous success have a responsibility to support good, full-time jobs in the community. Between 2008 and 2012, for example, Google earnings rose by a whooping 202 percent. Meanwhile, between the same time period, median worker income in Silicon Valley fell by 3 percent.

Ben and other security officers are now trying to get the word out about Dream Crusher so that Silicon Valley can better understand why workers are coming together to fight for good, full-time jobs that provide family-supporting wages and decent benefits.

Asked what he wants players to get out of the game, Ben replied, “I want everyone to experience how growing income inequality is destabilizing our communities. Now more than ever, we need Apple, Google and other major tech companies to support good jobs so that our families can truly thrive and succeed.”

To play the game, visit www.TechCanDoBetter.org.

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