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One argument for games being art is that games provide the opportunity to experience a situation rather than to passively watch it occur to someone else. I Get This Call Every Day is one of those games that exemplifies this premise, and the bleak futility it allows us to experience is much more potent than if anyone simply told you how much customer service sucks.
The game itself is fairly simple. You play as a customer service representative, and you must answer a call from a user (Bill) who would like to change his address. The gameplay is a simple dialog tree. At various points in the game you can be terse, lax, or diligent, as you contend with your customer. The game feels an incredibly basic sample of a Mass Effect style dialog, except instead of getting paragon or renegade points you either continue on the phone call or get fired.
The graphics in a game like this are unimportant. They are crude and amateurish, but that’s not the point. They are functional at indicating what is happening. The meat of this game is in the story that it tells, and more importantly, in the fully voiced dialog. Even in the ‘proper’ choices the tedium of the job still sags in the characters’ voice, and the frustration audibly mounts in both characters as you proceed through the game. If not for the need to read your choices and click on them, this game could be enjoyed just as well with no visuals at all.
If you’ve ever worked in phone support you’ll recognize some of the common interactions that can plague customer service. Bill isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and he’s not as cooperative as he thinks he is. That disconnect fuels the conflict. I Get This Call Every Day is enlightening in just how soul-crushing it is, and the bittersweet music that plays at the end is the perfect accompaniment for your mood as you find yourself off the phone but not done dealing with the call. Overall, I Get This Call Every Day distills working in a call center into a ten minute experience that leaves the player questioning what just happened. For that alone it’s highly recommended.
The sad coda to the game is that the creator, David Gallant, was fired from his support job shortly after his employer found out about the game. It’s terrible that he’s lost his source of income, but to a degree, I’m glad for him. In the introductory video he describes himself as a “numb meat-popsicle”, and you’ll definitely hear that aspect of his personality play out in the game. He obviously didn’t enjoy his job, and so it’s hard for me to be sad for him that he’s unemployed. He’s clearly a talented individual, so I can only hope he’ll wind up in a better position when this is done. So buy the game and help him through this tough time (its $2 at his site, and you can vote for it on Project Greenlight). But at the very least, play I Get This Call Every Day and feel just how emotionally destructive video games can be.