Water Cooler Games
Water Cooler Games served as the web's primary forum for "videogames with an agenda" — coverage of the uses of video games in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment.
The site was maintained at watercoolergames.org
from 2003-2009, where it was edited by myself and Gonzalo Frasca
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Layoff, the Game
by Ian Bogost March 17, 2009
Mary Flanagan announces a new game from her Tiltfactor lab, created in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Game Design and Development program. The game, Layoff, is billed as "an examination of the current financial scandal."
The game is more or less a Bejeweled clone in which players align similar workers to lay them off. There are a few important additions, however, that makes the adoption of this common puzzle design more apt. The most striking is a little biographical blurb, presumably somewhat generative, that personalizes each of the workers. It's an effective way to characterize. Another is the unemployment office at screen bottom; workers don't disappear like jewels when laid off, they queue up, solemn, at the unemployment office.
All that notwithstanding, I found the rule preventing "suits" from being laid off to be forced. The idea that the white-collar is unaffected by the current economic downturn seems disingenuous, even if there are portions of it (AIG anyone?) who are surely acting in their own interest alone.