Office Boy (1889), board game: “The players start as Office Boys. They travel around a spiral track that uses hexagonal shaped spaces. Some spaces direct a piece to advance or go back. The first player to reach the center space becomes Head of the Firm and wins the game” (Board Game Geek).
Office Politics (1986), board game: “It’s dog-eat-dog FUN in the workplace! Relate and laugh as the game pokes FUN at the humorous side of workplace Gossip, Antics and Skulduggery. But, be careful not to get FIRED… from the game. An exiting game loaded with Opportunity, Challenge and OFFICE POLITICS. Hold meetings, becoming a SPY, Embezzling and Backstabing are all part of the FUN as players compete against each other, scaling the corporate ladder any way possible, to take the ownership of a company called “OFFICE POLITICS.”
SOFEL, Wall Street Kid / The Money Game II: Kabutochou no Kiseki(1989), video game: “The player must prove himself worthy by taking $500,000 in seed money and growing it to $1,000,000 in order to gain a six-hundred-billion-dollar inheritance from the extremely wealthy Benedict family. Successfully investing it in the American stock market results in rewards like going shopping on the weekend and being able to acquire expensive items such as a house. The names of the companies listed in the stock market are slight variants on actual U.S. companies in operation at the time of the game’s release. The player is also encouraged to spoil his girlfriend. The game terminates if the player is unable to raise the money needed for a key item such as a boat or the house, causing the stockbroker to be disowned by the family” (Wikipedia).
James Ernest, Cube Farm (2002): micro board game: “Time for the office managers to ruin your life again! It’s time to redesign the cube farm you’ve lived in for what only seems longer than eternity. Will you get to be near the elevators? The copier? Or will you have to trudge through a maze of corridors seeking a drink of water?Play your cards and find out.”
Jason Morningstar, Business Solutions (2006 beta), roleplaying game: “Business Solutions is the roleplaying game of life and love among photocopy repair technicians. As the area’s largest photocopy leasing franchise, Business Solutions sends out pairs of skilled repair technicians on service calls to a wide variety of interesting establishments. Service calls present danger and opportunity in equal measure–can your character evade the vengeful executive he cuckolded? Can he fix a bad controller PCB photogate, or will he have to call for help?”
Ubisoft Montreal, “Abstergo Industries / Abstergo Entertainment” portions of the early Assassin’s Creed games (2007-2013), video games: “Abstergo Industries is a multinational corporate conglomerate, and the primary front for the modern day activities of the Templar Order. One of the largest and most prominent corporations in the world, Abstergo Industries, or its predecessors, were responsible for the majority of human technological development for the past millennia… By the year 2012, Abstergo Industries had expanded into various business sectors, setting up various subsidiary companies, such as Abstergo Entertainment” (Assassin’s Creed Wikia).
Epidiah Ravachol, Time & Temp (2009), roleplaying game: “Adventure awaits you in the exciting field of temporary staffing! Time & Temp is a game of time travel and underemployment for 3 to 5 players. Employed by Marigold Staffing and working at Browne Chronometric Engineering, Inc., you travel through the ages actualizing solutions for the anomalies and paradoxes that threaten all of existence. You are reality’s only line of defense in the war between the rigidity of causality and freewill. And your only reward is the hard earned satisfaction of a job well done (plus $11.50 an hour and a modest health package including comprehensive immunizations for history’s most prolific diseases). Join now and help make anachronism a thing of the past!”
Alessandro Piroddi, Infotech Team: Beyond Rage & Betrayal(2009), roleplaying game: “Infotech Team: Beyond Rage & Betrayal is a silly game about senseless technical emergencies, ruthless office warfare and shameless watercooler flirtations. You will play one day in the troubling life of a bored wage-salve employed in the technical department of some nameless corporation… and turn it upside down with ‘help’ from your colleagues.”
Paolo Pedercini, Every Day the Same Dream (2009), flash game: “a short existential game about alienation and refusal of labor.”
Kevin Lanzing, Flash Point: Fire Rescue — Urban Structures (2011), board game expansion: “Urban Structures is an expansion to the exciting co-operative game, Flash Point: Fire Rescue — where players are a firefighting team working together to battle a blazing fire and rescuing victims in a burning building.”
Steve Segedy, “Business Casual” playset for Fiasco (2012), roleplaying game supplement: “You are an office worker, a corporate scut monkey in a sea of beige
cubicles. The conflicts that define your life revolve around petty office politics, pointless projects, and missed deadlines. On a bad day you will be humiliated, abused, and betrayed by people you thought were your friends. On a good day you might get a new pen.”
Piotr Duda-Dziewierz, A Day at the Office(2013), Fastaval scenario: “A day at the office is a look into the dark side of adulthood–getting stuck in a non-rewarding, boring job. This is exactly where the characters are in their lives. The point of scenario is to get the characters to go through a transformation, where they overcome their apathy and finally become decisive. Maybe even find new meaning to their lives?”
Lucas Pope, Papers, Please (2014), video game: “Papers, Please has the player take the role of a border crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka, which has been and continues to be at political hostilities with its neighboring countries. As the officer, the player must review each immigrant and returning citizen’s passports and other supporting paperwork against a list of ever-increasing rules using a number of tools and guides, allowing in only those with the proper paperwork, rejecting those without all proper forms, and at times detaining those with falsified information. The player is rewarded in their daily salary for how many people they have processed correctly in that day, while being fined for making mistakes; the salary is used to help provide shelter, food, and heat for the player’s in-game family. In some cases, the player will be presented with moral decisions, such as approving entry of a pleading spouse of a citizen despite the lack of proper paperwork, knowing this will affect their salary. In addition to a story mode which follows several scripted events that occur within Arstotzka, the game includes an endless mode that challenges the player to process as many immigrants as possible” (Wikipedia).
PanoptiCorpMini Documentary (2013), film documentary of a live action roleplaying game: “PanoptiCorp is originally a Nordic larp from 2003, which was re-imagined in 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a satirical larp about an advertising agency, where players take on the roles of agency employees, pitching ideas to everything from an African dictator wanting an image makeover to an earnest businessman who wants to sell adult diapers. This documentary was produced by Cosmic Joke, as part of their feature length LARP documentary, Treasure Trapped” (YouTube).
Petter Karlsson and Martin Rother-Schirren, Papers: A Surreal Office Larp(2014), live action roleplaying game: “Papers is a playful and surreal experience about a company visited by management consultants. The larp caricatures corporate culture in a fast-paced way, using music and rituals in a cartoonish manner to energize the participants. Are you ready to go from good to great?”
Joshua Fox, Shreyas Sampat, and Grant Howitt, Field Work(2015), roleplaying game: “You might have a few questions as to what it is you’ll be doing for us as IT Technicians, and it’s my job to answer those questions. On paper, you’ll be making field trips to fix computers for people who are too dim to fix their own computers. But in addition to IT support, here’s what else you’ll be doing: everything. Most of you will be aware that, over the last year or so, extrareal entities began to surface in the populace–snake people, the undead, demons, murdergnomes, and so on. Some of these creatures pose a problem to our clients; some of them are our clients.”
Kyle Gabler & Kyle Gray, Human Resource Machine (2015), edutainment computer/video game: “Human Resource Machine uses the concept of a corporate office worker assigned to perform tasks that involve moving objects between an inbox, an outbox, and to and from storage areas as a metaphor for assembly language concepts. The player works through several puzzles in constructing a program to complete a specific task” (Wikipedia).
Christopher Stone-Bush, Japanese Office (2016), micro-larp: “Rank: Shacho –> Kacho –> Salaryman –> Office Lady.”
Matt Bethancourt, Lisa Bethancourt, and Danny Rankin, Busy Work (2017), computer game with workspace installation: “Busy Work is a fast-paced multiplayer game that makes a frantic and hilarious gameplay out of the monotonous aspects of office work. You and your colleagues (up to 8 players) compete to answer as many customer emails as possible before the morning meeting while constantly being interrupted with phone calls, pop-up calendar reminders, ‘urgent’ physical tasks, and more. Will you win the coveted employee-of-the-day bonus and lord it over your co-workers at happy hour?” (IndieCade).
Tender Claws, Virtual Virtual Reality (2017), virtual reality game: “Virtual Virtual Reality (VVR) is a virtual reality, narrative game about VR, A.I. and our sci-fi fever dreams. Put on VR headsets in VR to escape your A.I. manager and explore deeper realities in this two hour narrative satire. In the near future, most human jobs are automated. What is the purpose of humanity? Activitude, the Virtual Labor System, is here to help. Your artisanal human companionship is still highly sought by our A.I. clients. Strap on your headset. Find your calling… Gameplay: Complete several absurd “labor” minigames for with A.I. personalities. (ex: slather toast on a giant stick of butter as it berates your human efficiency.)” (IndieCade).
It’s Always Monday (2016), computer game: “it’s always monday is a first person exploration game which deals with the theme of modern existentialism. You see the world through the eyes of Bob and play your way through. Bob just woke up from a dream in his office, and is starting to realize that all of his life has been a lie. As you explore, meaning will come forth and the paradoxes of life might start to make sense. Will you help Bob find his true meaning? The story is told through the game mood, characters and visual storytelling.” (itch.io game website)
NimbleBit Studios, Tiny Tower (2011), iOS mobile game: “In this popular iPhone game, you build and manage a tower for adorable little bitizens. It’s an enclosed economic simulation where you control every aspect of the bitizens’ lives: they live in your tower; they work in your tower; and they shop in your tower. You even spy on them by reading their BitBook pages — hey, wait a minute! This little tower you’re building is just an updated version of George Pullman’s company town! You monster!” (Huffington Post)