Indie Developer Makes Game About His Job; Loses It
A few months ago, indie game developer David S Gallant made a game about his shitty day job. We’ve all had those, right? The job in question was a call center gig for the Canadian Revenue Agency, and the content presents a no-win situation where you have to deal with an unruly caller and the only way the game ends is with you being fired. The Star ended up writing a piece about this, with an overly sensationalized headline that caught the eye of Gallant’s employer.
Today, he finds himself out of a job.
He’s mentioned that this was always a calculated risk he took when making the game, but given that the content doesn’t portray his employer as a total bastard so much as it does poke fun at a difficult caller, it’s upsetting to see this reaction. At the time of this writing, David (being a class act) has declined to go into details of the reasons why he was fired for making this game, but it seems that if the CRA had fired him for portraying them negatively, then firing someone for their art seems to have done more harm than good.
I have to wonder if this isn’t yet another case of an older institution not “getting” video games. Having played the game myself, it’s not one that I found to make the CRA the butt of any jokes. I highly suspect the firing was done without actually experiencing the game on any level. It seems more likely that his employer freaked out at the headline and didn’t bother to investigate further – the call that was portrayed in the game was clearly fictional, so the “privacy and confidentiality” argument that has been brought up doesn’t hold water.
There is a small upside to this – the independent game development community is rallying support for David. Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell has announced a game jam themed around the agency to support his newly unemployed comrade, and I for one will be participating. If there truly is no such thing as bad publicity, hopefully being able to tell the story of being fired for his art will help David find a new day job so he can continue making games.