The lights are on
Every once in a while, gamers are regaled with the
uplifting, rags-to-riches story of an indie developer who is successful enough to
turn their passion for game development into a full-time career. David Gallant's
story is decidedly different. As a customer-service representative for the
Canada Revenue Agency, it was Gallant's job to help callers with routine tasks
like changing their address, while dealing with the demands of his superiors
and government red tape. Rather than being dejected by his day job, however,
Gallant was inspired by it. He funneled his frustrations into I Get This Call
Every Day, a short indie game he describes as a "personal tale of unwinnable
realities." Shortly after the game's release, however, Gallant experienced the punch line of I Get
This Call Every Day firsthand.
Thanks For Calling:
I Get This Call Every Day centers on a single telephone
interaction with a caller attempting to change his address with the Canada
Revenue Agency (presumably, anyway; while Gallant based the game on his day
job, the CRA is never mentioned by name and the caller's information is
fictional). What entails is a 5-10 minute conversation where players choose the
customer-service rep's responses, as the caller is walked through the endless
security questions required to change his address.
Get too snippy with the caller, and he'll demand to
speak to your supervisor, which ends with you getting fired. Give him a break and
bypass some of the security questions, and your boss will fire you for not
following protocol. Walk the tightrope of bureaucracy and customer service, and
you keep your job, but still fail to help the caller.
As a game, I Get This Call Every Day isn't terribly
fun, but it does a good job of encapsulating the frustration Gallant faced at
his former job. That frustration didn't stem from annoying callers, but rather
some fundamental problems with the call-in procedure that don't have any easy
Sure, the caller doesn't have any of the information
he needs to change his address and asks "why?" more than a two-year-old. But
some of that information, such as the caller's net income from the previous
year's tax returns within two dollars, seems excessive. At the same time it's
hard to blame the CRA, as the security measures are there to protect its citizens from identify theft. Rather than simply stating these problems, I Get This Call
Every Day demonstrates them over a course of a few minutes in a way that feels
The CRA didn't see the same value in Gallant's
modest indie game. After catching wind of the project, the communications
director for National Revenue Minister Gail Shea released a statement to the Toronto
Star calling Gallant's actions "offensive and completely unacceptable," and
asked Commissioner of Revenue Andrew Treusch to "investigate and take any and
all necessary corrective action." A few days later, Gallant was fired.
When news of Gallant's termination surfaced, indie-game
fans rallied to his support. Sales of IGTCED have increased exponentially over
the past few weeks, and the game has currently received more than 9,600 Yes
votes on Steam Greenlight. That said, Gallant is still a long ways away from
the fairy tale ending so many indie developers dream of. The increased sales
have given him and his wife some breathing room for paying the bills, but Gallant
will soon start looking for another part-time job to make ends meet, as he
continues to pursue his love of game development in his free time.
After playing I Get This Call Every Day, we spoke
with Gallant to get his thoughts on the game, his termination, and the struggle
of being an indie developer.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.