I was a little caught aback when I saw that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) fired an employee over a video game that he had created based on his job. Getting fired from the CRA is not easy task – as I used to tell people when I worked at the CRA, you could stand on your bosses desk and pee on his / her papers and not come close to getting fired. I had to do some research and ask around to get more details in order to see what really happened to cause this termination. My immediate reaction to this article – before reading it and researching for more details, as that I would have thought that someone with this kind of wit and abilities should not be fired from the CRA, but rather, promoted in the CRA, right into the IT or marketing departments where his skills could be used to help the CRA make peace with the general public. Then again, I’m not often surprised by the decisions made by the CRA.The video game this employee made, was not solely based on his job, but rather, on the disdain of his job – which makes a pretty big difference. in my opinion. In case you would like to locate the game and check it out, the developer’s name is David S. Gallant and the name of his game is “I Get This Call Every Day”. Based on details of his location and that he would be receiving calls every day which are similar, I came to the conclusion that he worked in the call centre somewhere out near the Toronto West TSO.
In the game, users listen to a customer call and are given options for how they can respond to the inquiry. The game prompts the user to respond to the calls, and having never seen the game I cannot be 100% sure, but I understand that there are common responses and some shall we say are a little less than professional, such as the often cited snarky response like “I’m not your buddy, sir” which is intended to rile up callers instead of helping them with their problems and moving on to the next call.
While it’s true that the CRA are not your buddies, I can honestly saw in the 11-years I spent at the CRA and the 7 years since dealing with call services agents on the phone, I am more concerned when an employee is unable to navigate their system (because they are new or not adequately trained) so they cannot provide me information I require or are unwilling to, but I have never, ever had an agent be rude to me even in the slightest – for which I give the CRA top marks because within the CRA everyone knows the call centre is like a prison because the agents are handcuffed to the phones and have no opportunities to wander from their desks as say, collections or audit staff would. Advancement opportunities are also quite limited, but the training these guys get is top-notch and I have personally hired staff from the call centres for private sector work because of their knowledge and they customer service skills.
Mr. Gallant was quoted as saying that; “I felt the need to express myself, and despite the fact that I could’ve lost my job for it, I still wanted to ensure that I got my art out there and I made it available to people.”
The Minister of National Revenue, Gail Shea, however failed to see the humour in the situation. “The minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable,” a statement released from her office. The CRA will now proceed with the common practice of conducting a full investigation into the access of Mr. Gallant to ensure no confidential information was compromised, and no illegal activities took place while Mr. Gallant was employed there.
While I personally witnessed much more severe acts which should have resulted in termination, the CRA does not like to get embarrassed, and that is probably what they feel this was. Unfortunately, unless the game clearly identifies Mr. Gallant and his position at the CRA, then this is another circumstance of someone from within the CRA outing an employee and getting them punished which happens a lot in bureaucracies, especially in the CRA which I can attest to.
If anyone has seen the game or played it, I would love for them to comment with their feedback in order to add additional facts to my post, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and I can keep them anonymous and add the facts at the bottom of this post.
- Revenue Canada worker’s video game draws criticism (cbc.ca)
- Download Code: The game David S. Gallant got fired over is a perfect example of games as art (business.financialpost.com)
- He Made An Honest Game About His Work, And It Cost Him His Job (kotaku.com)
- Guy makes a game about his crappy job working for Canadian tax authority, loses his crappy job (boingboing.net)
- Revenue Canada employee fired over video game (o.canada.com)
- Customer service rep fired for writing game that mocks callers (go.theregister.com)