Guy makes a game about his crappy job working for Canadian tax authority, loses his crappy job

David S. Gallant had a part-time job working as a "numb meat puppet" for Canada Revenue Agency, answering phones and dealing with people who were often grumpy and thick. He vented his frustration by creating a little indiegame called "I Get This Call Every Day." He got fired.

In the game, the player listens to a conversation between a person talking to a government-style customer service representative. There is no specific mention of government but one of the graphics refers to “Last Tax Return” and some of the security questions asked of the caller are similar to what real CRA agents require.

The caller, who comes across as dense and snippy, wants to get his address changed and the player decides how the agent answers by clicking on screen choices.

“It’s easy (for the agent) to get fired in the game,” says Gallant.

And maybe in real life.

National Revenue Minister Gail Shea is not amused. Her communications director, Clarke Olsen, sent an email to the Star Tuesday stating, “The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.”

Tax department employee creates online game to vent his frustration with taxpayers [Valerie Hauch/Toronto Star]


  1. How can I buy a copy of this game to support this guy? As someone who once worked in a customer service position dealing with people who were occasionally dense, sometimes snippy, and almost always angry I wish I’d come up with the idea of creating a game that allowed me to vent my frustrations. It would have been more constructive than going home and yelling at family members who hadn’t done anything to deserve such ire about how crappy my day was. Admittedly almost anything would have been better, but, unfortunately, it’s hindsight that’s 20/20. 

  2. Shouldn’t it be illegal to fire him? He didn’t program the game while at work, so what possible right do they have to dictate what he can and can’t do in his spare time?

    1. Sounds like they’re taking the angle that he might have leaked SIN or other personal info. Not that he likely did, just sounds like that’s what they’re using for the justification.

      I bought a copy. Why not! It’s pretty funny and creative.

    2. You don’t need a right to fire someone, as long as it’s not for reasons like gender, age, ethnicity, religion, etc. Most places can fire you for looking at them cross-eyed, if they like. Best advice is to either: a) not work for a company that is a dick. b) don’t ever piss where you drink.

      1. That can vary state to state. Since he was in Canada I assume that they might have more progressive labor laws, but I may be wrong.

        1. Oddly working for the Federal government you aren’t covered by most Provincial Labour laws and working part time he likely doesn’t have the union to fall back on.

          1. You don’t get employment insurance for being fired.  Only laid off.  At least for Canada’s EI.

            For part time working in CRA, I doubt you get any severance package either, you might get your unused vacation pay.

            I guess the guy can sell the part he’s recently hired by CRA.  Being fired that way you’re not longer obligated to them in any other way.  You’re not leaking personal information of course, but you *can* state how CRA worked at the time you’re working there.  Should be useful information for someone.

          2. You can get EI if you are fired or if you quit. It depend why.

            For severance, it depens if he’s permanent, how long he was on the job.

            He threw a 28$ per hour job by is own negligence (and i’m not even putting all the perks). Public servant have a training which deal espcially with this.

  3. Dear Minister Gail Shea, If the work you give is so crappy that your employees are creating elaborate art just to cope maybe you should rethink your organization. Or allow the use of cannabis.

  4. Meanwhilst, the 1/2 million identities of student loan recipients that were recently stolen from piece of unsecured hardware just isn’t that big a deal according to the same government.  Bastards.

    1. yeah, this is more or less what I was thinking.

      Wait, when real data is leaked because of the incompetence or refusal of management to do the right thing, that’s OK, but when no data is leaked at all in a fictional game made by a lower-level employee, that’s reason to cry foul. What evil bureaucratic bs is this? Seriously, you couldn’t even make a satire of this nonsense that would be worse! 

        1. let’s see. they reiterated their policies and swore that they’ll take it really seriously the next time it happens, and they paid for private credit monitoring (with taxpayer money, note). was the responsible employee fired? since there is no mention of it, i’ll assume not for now.

  5. “The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable.” — the minister means taking the weeks or months necessary to learn how to write gaming software, implement internal game logic, and then deploy it, is offensive and unacceptable conduct?

  6. Meanwhile, other guy writes movie about how much work sucks, is able to become independently wealthy…

  7. I know David S. Gallant personally and it’s great to see this being covered on Boing Boing. I do wish it wasn’t linking to the Toronto Star article that really instigated him being fired. It really mischaracterizes the game as an attack on taxpayers when it’s really about the tedium of working any call center job.  While there are some details that hint at what his job involves it never mentions his employer directly. Previous coverage of the game makes no mention of taxes, tax payers etc… also looks to me like Valerie Hauch deliberately tried to create controversy by calling the minister’s attention to the game. Given it really isn’t about the Canada Revenue Agency I doubt they would have even been aware of it had this article not been written.Financial Post has much better write up on the game and David losing his job that includes a short interview:

    1. Is he getting a good bump in sales from the coverage? Probably not enough to offset the job-loss, sadly. Maybe a job-offer? There have been less creative resumes out there….

      I ponied up the minimum for the game as I don’t even know if I’ll play it. I like his chutzpah.

      I did not like the purchasing interface that insisted on my address and telephone number. feh.

      1. He’s definitely gotten a bump (though not a replacement for a steady paycheck as you say) and Toronto’s large indie game development community is rallying around him It’s a bit early to tell for sure but it looks like he’ll land on his feet.

        However not everyone has the benefit of designing games within a large, supportive community. The fact that David will be ok doesn’t make this journalists actions ok.  On that note I just noticed that the link actually goes to her follow up, non-apology, article rather then the one that actually got him fired (the link title is the headline of the original which confused me), my bad. Though I do wish it wasn’t linking to any article written by that journalist given her conduct.

          1. For anyone interested in following this further the Toronto Indie Game jam website has compiled a rather thorough up to date collection of articles etc…

            There’s also a very detailed breakdown of the changes the Toronto Star and Valerie Hauch have made to the articles both online and in print.  None of these changes have been accompanied by the standard footnote  explaining what changes have been made that you might expect to see from a reputable news source like the Star. Not impressed, but at this point not terribly surprised. 

  8. As much as I’m against spying on your employees spare time over the internet, this was more then a tad unprofessional and definitely deserving of stiff disciplinary action. I know if I was his manager and found out he was talking about how stupid clients are publicly in his spare time, I’d have some choice words with him.

    That said that it came down from the Minister? That’s something else. A conservative minister acting like a heavy-handed autocrat? No kidding. I’m not sure I’d have gone as far as firing him… it’d be close though.

    If “the game wasn’t about the government or particulars”, well he could have made it just that. He could have turned SIN numbers into account numbers, he could have completely hidden who his employer was and did this whole thing without revealing who his employer was. I have a personal policy never to mention my employer by name online, as I think most people do. Not that it’s much of a secret to anybody that knows you offline.

    1. If the clients are stupid, it should be allowed to say so. But then, I always liked more a bare truth than a polished false image, and despised those who insist on such images.
      If your job is crappy, you should be allowed to say so (and why) without facing repercussions. Such voices are the necessary antidote against the everything-is-just-peachy whitewash. If the employer doesn’t like people complaining their jobs suck, he can stop them by making the conditions better.

      Do you prefer living in a world where things are what they look as, or the world where they don’t?

    2. That might have been true only he NEVER mentioned his employer by name online. Yes there are details that allowed some people to figure it out but until the Star wrote the article that badly mischaracterized the game (and alerted the Minister by asking for comment) people generally weren’t making that connection.  Nasty, unethical journalism in my opinion, well that or just incredibly incredibly inept.  

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