TOJammer David Gallant FIRED
When? Today (Jan. 29, 2013)
Why? He made a game.

David Gallant | I Get This Call Every Day   I Get This Call Every Day
you work at a call center.
(spoiler) you try to verify a caller's details.

My Review
"the funniest, most depressing game ever - Buy!"

Another Review
"admittedly not fun"


Summary

On Jan. 29, 2013 - the Toronto Star wrote this article (since modified) about David Gallant's game "I Get This Call Every Day". The reporter somehow learned David worked for the CRA, "interviewed" David, provoked the minster of finance (David's boss), then portrayed the game as an attack on the taxpayer. Thanks entirely to this article, and general ignorance of games, David was promptly fired.

The game contains no reference whatsover to the Canada Revenue Agency (David's former employer), the government, the taxpayer or anything confidential. It takes place in a totally generic call center - no different than a Dilbert cartoon. Additionally, David always guarded where he worked (the Star somehow discovered David worked for the CRA and contacted them).

If David had written a short story, directed a movie, or did some stand-up inspired by his boring job he'd still be employed. In fact, he'd be celebrated. i.e. Dilbert, The Office, Office Space

In another medium, David would appear in the Star's arts section and be defended from "necessary corrective action." In fact, the threat from the government would BE the story. Did I just say censorship? Whoops!

In another medium...
... reporters would choose their words more carefully
... the game would be the focus, and not just a vehicle for another agenda
... the reporter would have played the game before doing the interview.

David was fired because he expressed himself using a game.

What can you do?
1. Let the Toronto Star, the reporter and the minister know how you feel.
2. Buy David's Game (it's good)
3. Vote for IGTCED on Steam (seriously, it's good!)
4. Attend the Fundraiser (Feb. 10 9:00pm, Sneaky Dee's, $5.00)
5. Make a game for the CRA Jam (Feb. 2 - 3)

- Jim McG






The Changing Star

While creating this response to the first article, I noticed that it kept changing, and changing, and changing. Dead horse time: I highly doubt an indie musician/poet/artist would be subject to these changes. In new versions of the first article, lines were removed that painted David badly. The new version (print) of the second article is radically different from the first. Since this print version is the latest, why has the Star not synced with their site? The paranoid might conclude the Star fears the reaction of the gaming community (which typically doesn't read print)

If different versions of Star articles is common practice, they've got larger problems.
I've detailed every change below, including images of every version of every article.
Enjoy?


2013-01-31 The Toronto Star changes physical edition of the second article (v3.0)


  • Article completely rewritten making it impossible to compare exact changes
  • Title changed from "Revenue Canada worker fired for his online customer service game" to "Game over for taxman's irked worker"
  • Removed self serving quote from original article "Gallant does not appear to be too devastated by what's happened."
  • Downplays the fact most of the information in the article comes from tweets. i.e. The fact David is not communicating with the Star moved from the 2nd paragraph until the end.
  • Added "Many tweeters lambasted the Star, blaming it for Gallant losing his job and suggesting the reporter did not play the game (She did)." As this site makes clear, it's more than just "tweeters" that blame the Star. Subtle attempt to diminish opposition is pathetic. In the same vein, reporter uses "(She did)" and not the less professional, but way more accurate "(I did)".
  • "Taxpayer" returns, both in the title and in reference to Gallant's job (no longer accuses game of being about taxpayers).
  • Refers to the CRA as "everyone's least favourite federal department". You can guess where this is going.



2013-01-30 The Toronto Star writes second article (v2.0)

  • Title: "Revenue Canada worker fired for his online customer service game"
  • Don't have a snapshot of v1.0 of this article.
    v2.0 might just be removal of game screenshot... might.
  • Same reporter(!)
  • Taxpayer angle completely removed. Player now "[listens] to a conversation between an unprepared, annoying caller". Unlike the first article, there's no mention the caller is a taxpayer.
  • "Gallant does not appear to be too devastated by what's happened."
    Reporter now offering self serving opinion based on Tweets she's read.
  • Untrustworthy live version of second article v2.0



2013-01-30 The Toronto Star changes online edition of the original article (v4.0)

  • First sentence removed "The frustration and, yes, loathing many people feel for the taxman may be mutual"
  • URL changed (~11:30am) - I wrongly concluded they removed the article.
    Old URL leads to the Star's home page.
    New URL worked, but broken since 3:00pm
    These might be explained by technical issues... might.
  • All user Comments removed (~11:00am)- Can't add new comments
  • "he's an edgy gamer guy" kept (removed from print edition)
  • Untrustworthy live version of original article v4.0



2013-01-30 The Toronto Star changes physical edition of the original article (v3.0)
  • Title changed from "Tax department employee creates online game to vent his frustration with taxpayers" to "Your call is utterly annoying to us"
  • "he's an edgy gamer guy" removed



2013-01-29 The Toronto Star's original article (v2.0)

  • Title: Tax department employee creates online game to vent his frustration with taxpayers
  • Reporter (Valerie Hauch) added a taxpayer angle that doesn't exist in the game:
    "Tax department employee creates online game to vent his frustration with taxpayers"
    "The job involves answering calls from taxpayers"
    "... [taxpayers] can be annoying and stupid."
    "... [taxpayer] comes across as dense and snippy"
  • Reporter contacted National Revenue Minister Gail Shea for comment:
    "offensive and completely unacceptable"
    "investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised"
  • Unlike everyone involved, I played the game.
    No confidential taxpayer information was compromised.
    Wondering why the ministry even thought that was the case.
  • Don't have a snapshot of v1.0 of this article (before Star updated). I do have this v1.0 snapshot - 11:05am from Metro News. It's "By Staff, Torstar News Service", and extremely similar aside from the wildly wrong title "Tax agency employee goes online to vent frustrations". In this version, a CRA spokesperson replied "no comment". Gail Shea was not yet not amused. Untrustwothy live version of Metro v1.0






Feelings Expressed Elsewhere

If someone's talking about this, you'll find a link to it here.

The CBC coverage is a great example of "old media" and games (a problem I have with the Star). While it's fantastic the CBC is covering this story - and what they've produced so far is quite good - they're only covering the feel good ending. The questions raised by the feel awful beginning are totally ignored. While the CBC consistently acknowledges the large amount of support David is receiving, they don't equate that with an unjust firing. Why? Games.

Compare CBC coverage of a fired waitress and a a fired jerk. Both these articles discuss whether the firing was legal.

David is taking the high road, which is admirable and best for David (he is, after all, looking for a job). Unfortunately, this coverage is NOT going to help the next game dev that gets screwed.


CBC News Website : Second Article - 2013-02-01
  • Refers to IGTCED as an "autobiographical game",
    but fails to question how one gets fired for that
  • "The Star and other newspapers printed their follow-up stories about Gallant losing his job." No mention that the Star used the same reporter that lost him his job.
  • Implies my tweet was in reaction to David getting fired (I tweeted before that happened). My tweets questioning the Star's reporting ignored. Minor issue, but since they twoted me...
  • No mention of the Star's original article

CBC - As It Happens : Radio - Broadcast 2013-01-31
  • 6 minute segment (link below video). Features a really good interview with David.
  • Carol: "Do you think she should play your game?"
    David: "I would like her to."
    Carol: (giggling)
  • Carol: "Is it fair or safe to say that when you invented this game and put it out there (IGTCED) that this was an elaborate resignation letter?"
    David: "uh.... i don't think it would be fair to say that... i mean... i'll be totally honest... uh... working in a call centre is not my career choice... i maintained employment in a call center as uh.... financial needs."
  • Presumably the idea of David suuing for wrongful dismissal would be greeted by giggles.
  • No mention of the Star's original article

CBC News Toronto : TV/Video - Broadcast 2013-01-31 5:55pm
  • 2 minute segment. They interviewed David and featured game prominently
  • Segment Title "Life Imitates Video Game: Ontario man sacked for creating game inspired by job" - now that's an awesome title. No mention of the CRA, taxman, and inspired is the perfect word.
  • "Fortunately for Gallant, it's a job he didn't really want anyways and besides, the reason for losing it has opened some potentially lucrative doors" - that's the LEAD-IN
  • Segment Sub-Title: "Gamer Gets Fired" - you read that right
  • Ron Charles (interviewer) happily mentions "a tidal wave of online support"
  • Ron Charles: "If you hated the job so much, why didn't you quit?"
    David: "that's always a question... and... it's even a question i've asked myself [CUT-OFF]" Based on playing David's game, everyone would hate that job.
    Based on David's December interview with Kotaku, he needed the money.
  • No mention of the Star's original article

CBC News Website : First article 2013-01-30
  • Title: Revenue Canada worker fired over video game creation
  • "The public's response, however, has differed from the minister's."
  • Ends on David's happy quote "It's actually somewhat turned around into a very big blessing for me in a way, [CUT-OFF]"
  • No mention of the Star's original article

Giant Bomb - How Making a Video Game About Your Life Can Get You Fired
They reveal that the reporter discovered David worked at the CRA BEFORE the interview. David did NOT tell the interviewer, she knew before she contacted him. Valerie Hauch (the reporter) has not returned their request for comment.

National Post - Download Code: The game David S. Gallant got fired over is a perfect example of games as art 2013-01-30
If you read just one followup article about this debacle, make it this one. Not only did Daniel Kaszor play and review the game, but he offers some great insight (some of which I totally disagree with). If the Star's reporter understood games like Daniel, you wouldn't be reading this.

Boing Boing - Guy makes a game about his crappy job working for Canadian tax authority, loses his crappy job 2013-01-30
Mostly a repost of the Star's article. However, the comment by Miguel Sternberg is spot on.

VentureBeat: GamesBeat - Cubicle culture and the potential of indie games to tell stories differently 2013-01-31
"IGTCED isn't a fun game, but it's one worth experiencing and is important as far as games charting personal experiences go." First person besides Valerie to find Billy "a stupid and irate customer."

Metro - Revenue Canada worker fired after making video game
Since this comes from "Torstar News Service", it's almost identical to the Star's article. Skip it and read the first comment by Corparate_Idiots (last on page) - it's amazing. The staff originally embellished the article with pictures of tweets from David, but those were replaced with awkward text. Worth noting that this title was the 3rd attempt. "Revenue Canada worker fired for his online rant" and "Revenue Canada worker fired after making tax video game" were replaced after David twittered both were incorrect. Unsure why they didn't stick with the original title, unsure if David noticed yesterday's title.

The Escapist - Call Center Game Costs Developer His Job

the sixth axis - No More Calls Today

Indie Statik - I Used To Get This Call Every Day

NOW Gamer - Tax Department Employee Fired For Making Game About His Job

Robby Duguay - He doesn’t get that call anymore

Untold Entertainment - Indie Game Dev Goes Down in a Blaze of Glory

Kotaku - He Made An Honest Game About His Work, And It Cost Him His Job
"When I initially interviewed Gallant, he didn't want to specify who he worked for."

Pixels or Death - Indie Developer Makes Game About His Job; Loses It
"I have to wonder if this isn't yet another case of an older institution not "getting" video games. Having played the game myself, it's not one that I found to make the CRA the butt of any jokes. I highly suspect the firing was done without actually experiencing the game on any level."






Reviews of IGTCED posted BEFORE the drama

The game was released mid-December 2012. Some people reviewed the game, and some interviewed David. NONE of these reviews/interviews mention the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information. All felt the game took place in a generic call center.

Additionally, none of the reviewers found the caller "annoying and stupid" or "dense and snippy". Some even felt the caller was right (why all the questions for an address change?). Most reviews felt empathy for everyone involved - which David has stated was the entire point.

What exactly did Gail Shea find "offensive and completely unacceptable"?
What reason did the CRA give for firing David?
Why isn't this a story?

Answer: Games


Gamespot - reviewed game 2013-01-11
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- "The value of 'I Get This Call Every Day' is that, in a few short minutes, it gives us a small window into the experiences of call center employees, and that may make us more inclined to understand that the person on the other end of the phone is indeed a person, the next time we have to call a customer service line."

Independent Gaming - reviewed game 2012-12-22
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- "I was feeling actual empathy! I was empathizing not only with anyone stuck in this thankless job, but with the poor fool who had called in with a simple request only to be faced with hurdles of red tape."

FULLNOVAZERO - reviewed game 2012-12-19
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- "Its a cautionary tale about the fruitlessness of working in a call center day-to-day and the painful akwardness of trying to be the voice of constant positivity in the face of extreme reluctance."

Kotaku - reviewed game 2012-12-21
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- interwoven with candid interview with David - David doesn't mention where he works
- "Perhaps the worst part about it is recognizing myself as the caller, making someone else's life more difficult than it needs to be."

IndieGames - mentioned game 2012-12-21
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- David interviewed and quoted - no mention of where he works
- David: " it depicts a conversation between a call center agent and an average person in what is literally a type of call I receive regularly throughout my day job"

Indiestatik - reviewed game 2012-12-23
- no mention of the CRA, the government, taxpayers or confidential information
- "Gallant does such a good job capturing the experience of being a low-level cubicled office drone, and he does so in a way that is (believe it or not) unfiltered and unexaggerated."






Update Log
... like the Toronto Star, I'm continually updating this page.
... unlike the Toronto Star, changes are documented and previous versions are available
TOJam : News You Can Trust

Current 2013-02-03 1:40am
- Removed paragraph "2012-01-31 The Toronto Star likely preparing another article" since information was inaccurate. - Added paragraph to "Summary" to emphasize game contained no CRA/government/taxpayer/confidential info
- Changed word in "Summary" - from "about his boring job" to "inspired by his boring job" - inspired more accurate
- Added "Reviews of IGTCED posted BEFORE the drama" section
- Chopped the content into more distinct chunks to make things more readable. - Replaced "Latest Details" with "The Changing Star" since that's what it was
- Added more links (mostly CBC) to "Feelings Expressed Elsewhere"

v6 2013-01-31 7:35pm
- Added GiantBomb & CBC to "Feelings Expressed Elsewhere"
- Updated the summary to include the revelation the reporter uncovered the CRA connection (David didn't reveal it)
- Improved the formatting and added a touch of colour

v5 2013-01-31 6:15pm
- Added print version of Star's second article. Detailed differrences between it and the online version.
- Added "The Changing Star" section
- Added a bullet to "2012-01-30 The Toronto Star writes second article (v2.0)" noting lack of Taxpayer
- Improved overall text to ensure reporter was consistently referred to as reporter and not writer.
- Added this update log.

v4 2013-01-31 2:48pm
- Added more links to "Feelings Expressed Elsewhere"
- Changed summary text from "David was fired due to a combination of sensationalist reporting and general ignorance about games." to "Thanks to this sensationalist reporting, and general ignorance of games, David was promptly fired."

v3 2013-01-30 5:57pm
Started cataloging snapshots of the Star's changing articles

v2 2013-01-30 2:04pm
Found a possible v1.0 version, removed "Bonus Scandal"

Original 2013-01-30 12:30am