March 16, 2009

LAYOFF released today

by Mary Flanagan · , 8:02 am

Tiltfactor is at new digs and has another new game. Tilt and the multi-institutional Values at Play project are proud to announce the release of the new casual computer game, LAYOFF.
Layoff Game Image

Developed by members of the Tiltfactor Lab and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Game Design and Development program, LAYOFF is an examination of the current financial scandal.

In the game, players take on play from the side of management needing to cut jobs, and match types of workers in groups in order to lay the workers off and increase workforce efficiency. During the game play, players eliminating many workers in a row find financiers and bankers taking the place of working class jobs. The financiers in this game cannot face layoffs. Play the game at

LAYOFF was designed using the Values At Play curriculum materials, which can be used to design activist games or simply novel games with unusual mechanics. The key to the project is a focus on human values in games. The game has an unsettling feeling. It is cute and fun to play, but in this particular context and with this particular content, the game in fact functions as a dark portent.

4 Responses to “LAYOFF released today”

  1. Nick Montfort Says:

    Mary, congrats on the new game! Just having started to play, I see what you mean about the unsettling feeling. While there is an aspect of fun, there are also some odd things about this one … perhaps the strangest is that it doesn’t seem to take the ironic stance that other games about work and the economy do. You just are asked to consider people as puzzle tiles while you’re also given information about them as having human lives, personalities, and relationships.

  2. Mary Flanagan Says:

    Thanks Nick for noticing these factors. Layoff is simple in gameplay but hopefully resonates in that space between real world decisions and human lives in this depressing time.

    Layoff has already been reviewed on Kotaku and FWR:

  3. Water Cooler Games Says:

    Layoff, the Game…

    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.

    …Another is the unemployment office at screen bottom; workers don’t disappea…

  4. mary Says:

    Update; Layoff game has 1.1 million players its first week!

    Play and read many more reviews at

Powered by WordPress