Recently people have been passing round a “realistic unemployment simulator” game. Its a fun little game.
But its not great in that its very simplistic about the issues and thus very polarising. Its unlikely to make anyone who thinks the benefit crackdown is a good thing change their mind or even think about it seriously. It’ll widen the gap between those on different sides of the political argument, not shrink it.
Could we make an actually realistic unemployment simulator game that would make those who have never been in this situation begin to understand what it’s like and really think about it instead of reaching for political slogans?
Can we highlight some of the hard realities people face? Can we highlight the common mistakes job centre staff make and the serious consequences when they do?
For instance: You think you are receiving to much benefits. You ask the staff but they say its fine. Do you trust them? “Yes” Bad choice! Months later they say it was a mistake and you owe them hundreds of pounds. Which essential do you go without?
Can we highlight that some of the things people are being forced to do are actually counter productive?
For instance: You see an ad in a local paper for a job you want, do you apply? “Yes” Oh no! This job wasn’t listed on the job centre website. Because you didn’t spend 8 hours a day on the job centre website looking for jobs, you’ve lost your benefits!
For instance: You’ve finished working an unpaid workfare block at a major store. It went well, do you apply for a job there? “Yes” Sorry! They tell you they will get someone else unemployed in to do the work for free so they don’t need you – back to the job centre.
Can we highlight how stripping rights away from workers causes issues?
For instance: Your boss is pressuring you to work unpaid over time and verbally abusing you when you try to refuse. Do you ask friends or the Citizens Advice Bureau about a industrial tribunal? “Yes” Unfortunately changes to legal aid means you can’t afford it. Do you quit and hope to find a better job? “Yes” Unfortunately as you left of your own accord you aren’t entitled to benefits!
In short, could we make a game that really and actually made people think about this?
ps. To be clear, personally I have no time for this and anyway I don’t have the game design skills to handle the content well. Please, if you think you do then take this idea and run with it.