What can one do to lighten the mood of an economic downturn when millions of Americans have lost their jobs and taxpayer dollars are being funneled by the millions to bailed-out bank execs? Play Layoff, a new Web-based, casual, Bejeweled-like game that requires the player to take the role of hatchet man. Score big by giving pink slips to employees and save your corporation money.
The rules of the game are pretty simple. Click on employees in order to line up matching characters. A row of three or more causes them to be fired, and all get sent down to the unemployment office. As the player lets go more workers, they are replaced by bankers who are immune to firing. If the player gets stuck, he or she can click "bailout" -- but only once (would that the real business world adhered to this rule). The game also counts how much money is saved via firing, but will often say "cut budget," asking the player to continue the rampage of laying off good workers.
The game was created by Tiltfactor Labs and Rochester Institute of Technology's Game Design and Development program.
While usually gaming is associated with escapism, the all-to-real premise hammers our sad economic reality home through satire and irony. Each worker has a unique background story that may or may not tug on your heartstrings as you send them to the unemployment lines. Your ability to be cold-hearted to these virtual employees is definitely a factor in your success. The game also features a scrolling display of unsettling facts about bailout money, large corporations, and of course, accounts of massive layoffs in order to displace company cost.
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