Funemployed Accessibility Teardown

Funemployed (2014) – Accessibility Teardown (NSFW)

Game Details
NameFunemployed (2013)
ReviewMeeple Like Us
ComplexityLight [1.19]
BGG Rank1663 [6.89]
Player Count (recommended)3-20 (3-7)
Designer(s)Anthony Conta
Artist(s)Uncredited
Buy it!Amazon Link

Version Reviewed

Third edition

Introduction

Funemployed is a smarter, wittier and somehow darker game than Cards Against Humanity. Perhaps it’s because nobody gets to find their excuses in their hand – if you say something terrible it’s almost all on you. We like it a lot – we gave it four stars in our review, and if anyone suggests playing CAH inevitably what we’ll say is ‘How about a nice game of Funemployed instead?’.

That’s not to say there are no problems – this is still a game where you need to tread carefully before you bring it out with a group. That’s what our accessibility teardown is for though – let’s get started by bringing in the first of our categories for a grilling.

Be careful though – the third person on the panel is our representative from Human Resources and it’s vital they they leave with no hint as to what really goes on in this organisation.

Colour Blindness

Colour blindness presents no problem at all – the cards have only words on them and they are presented with a large and obvious heading that says what kind of card they are.

Colour blind cards

The qualification cards are purely black and white, and the job card can easily be differentiated by its different hue and its ‘Job’ title along the top.

Job card

We strongly recommend Funemployed in this category.

Visual Accessibility

Good news here across the board – the card text is large and visually striking and is presented in an unornamented and clear font. The cards themselves are as accessible as they reasonably can be. The vast majority of the gameplay is going to be verbal, and a player doesn’t have any game-state they need to explore for the most part.

There are issues though. The first is that the resume building phase is conducted at speed and the spread of cards will change rapidly unless everyone makes compensations for maximum accessibility. That’s certainly feasible, but you’d lose a bit of the energy of the phase. There’s also a small issue here in that players are expected to hold a hidden hand of information and they represent qualifications they might want to play in a particular order. Being able to inspect that hidden hand of cards would be useful there although the only speed requirement is that of comedy pacing.

Neither of those are insurmountable problems because the only reason to keep your cards secret is for the comedy value and there’s nothing to stop a visually impaired player and the interviewer collaborating here. Essentially you’re both in on the joke and playing it up for the rest of the table. The base version of Funemployed then is one we’d be prepared to recommend to players with any degree of visual impairment.

It’s better than that though! The rules contain a variant mode called ‘Late to the Interview’ and not only does it solve these problems it might actually be my favourite style of the game. Instead of choosing cards to play and building a resume you get dealt four cards and you’re not allowed to look at them. You just play them out and have to think on your feet because the first time you know what they are is the same time everyone else knows. If your interviewer states the card back to you, perhaps in an incredulous tone, you’ll get 100% of the game experience with zero inaccessibility for this section. It’s a more cognitively expensive variant to play, but it’s wonderful for this category.

As such, Funemployed gets a strong recommendation in this category.

Cognitive Accessibility

There are no specific problems as far as memory impairments are concerned – the interviews need not have any internal consistency to be funny and all the game state a player might need is in front of them. Scoring is as simple as counting up the cards you gained. As long as everyone remembers what’s going on in the course of a single interview the game is fully playable for those with minor to moderate memory impairments. There aren’t even really any rules to remember. It’s more like directed improv than anything else.

For those with other kinds of cognitive impairments though there are a suite of issues that need to be taken into account. The first is that the game expects a reading level and it’s sometimes relatively high even if it’s not syntactically complex. A strong vocabulary helps in putting together a CV. Taking twenty cards at random I see things like ‘Pretentious’, ‘Telanovela’, ‘Pyromaniac’ and ‘Emotionally hollow’. This links in with the most significant problem in this category – a large degree of general knowledge is required for play.

First of all, a player needs to know what a job involves, at least in its most general sense. What skills does an architect need, or a B-Movie actor? What does an archaeologist do, and what would occupy the days of a cruise director? And how might a hand of four random qualifications be spun so that they come out as a benefit to the task as opposed to a detriment? The only thing that makes this a game is the creativity challenge that comes along with pitching your awful CV to a weird job. If either of those tasks are difficult to do then the game essentially breaks down and you’re no longer playing Funemployed – rather you’re engaged in some kind of casual word association exercise.

The game can be made easier (or harder) by changing the number of qualifications that a player needs to incorporate, and you can make the decks more accessible by curating them somewhat. You’re liable in the latter situation though to find yourself without enough cards to really support repeated play. In such a scenario you’d be better off just making a paper prototype of your own version that works for your specific circumstances.

We’ll strongly recommend Funemployed for those with memory impairments, but we don’t recommend it for those where fluid intelligence impairments impact on literacy, communication, world knowledge or creativity of explanation.

Emotional Accessibility

There’s a lot of attention on the interviewee and the interviewer, and both are going to be expected to entertain. That can be dangerous territory in this category, especially because it involves a degree of acting and roleplaying. The best results come from incorporating card features into the interview before they are actually revealed – for example, you might have a ‘French accent’ qualification and use that right from the start only to reveal it at the end and explain why it’s the thing that’s most needed for the job. You might have ‘X-Ray vision’ and keep leering and winking at the interviewer until you reveal its existence at the last moment. That needs a fair bit of confidence to bring people into the joke before you reveal the punchline.

Those that don’t feel comfortable with this are unlikely to find Funemployed a very enjoyable experience, and that’s likely to be a problem that compounds in on iitself. If you’re the only one at the table that fails to raise more than a polite chuckle with your interview then it’s hard not to take that personally because your job was to entertain and clearly you failed. It’s not that the cards were a problem – the problem was that you didn’t find the funny in them. A bad round of Funemployed can be like dying on stage at an open mic night and it can create situations of escalating anxiety for the rounds to follow. On the other hand, the game does lend a hefty amount of support by reducing the barriers to comedy. What you’re trying to convince people of is inherently ludicrous and that’s usually good for a laugh.

If you don’t get it, though…

Some troubling cards

There are also threaded through the cards a few that are likely to cause problems for certain groups – mental conditions, religions and medical symptoms are all qualifications you can be pitching. However, the way the game works tends to be a ‘healthier’ way of making this a joke because your job is to spin them in the most positive light. However, as with Once Upon a Time it’s sometimes difficult to do that in a sensitive way and if someone at the table has an invisible disability that comes up as a qualification you may be in difficult territory if you are trying to play it for laughs. Few people like to see their personal challenges represented as a punchline.

Sexual content

The box marks the game out as being for 18+, and that’s certainly true of a good chunk of the cards. The game by itself is not inherently NSFW and it would have been good if there had been some way to sort the ‘mature content’ cards from the ones that are simply comical. I’ve played this with students at the RGU games night and before I did I went through and removed the cards that made me uncomfortable in that situation – I would have liked that to have been more convenient. Those cards themselves are fine for a game of this nature, but in that specific scenario I’m still ‘the authority figure’ even if that’s honoured more in the breach than in the observance. I didn’t really want to be in an interview session where I may be telling an uncomfortable student why my chronic masturbation makes me an ideal candidate for the porn star job she is advertising. It’s not that I disapprove of that scenario, just that it’s not at all appropriate for me to participate in that interview at a game event I’m running within the university.

In that we encounter the same issue we do with Cards Against Humanity – you can’t route around the darkness inherent in juxtaposition. Any combination of cards can be horrendous if someone wants to make them so. Even the most vanilla qualification can lead to dark stories if people want that to happen. If everyone in the group is happy with that it’s great. Otherwise there’s a risk of players being uncomfortable without any recourse. There’s no way around that – it’s a core part of a game like this. It’s something to bear in mind when you break it out for an audience where sensitivity or appropriateness may be relevant factors.

I was asked at one of the aforementioned game events events if it was true that I had ‘banned’ Cards Against Humanity from being played. And the answer was ‘Noooooooo, buuuuuuut…’

The problem I have, and this might be one that you share, is that my largest intention with game events is to create a friendly, welcoming and inclusive space. I’m not interested in being the tone police or telling people they shouldn’t be playing particular games because they’re terrible. My students, because it’s a university, are all adults. I have no right, nor interest, to dictate the content to which they expose themselves. But the problem is that Cards Against Humanity has a wide splash damage radius. I don’t need to worry about the people who opted in to playing it – I need to worry about the ones that didn’t but are still within earshot.

Funemployed has a similar issue but it tends to be much more subtle. You don’t have people shouting out ‘Haha, a jolly big cock!’ while shocked mothers cover the ears of their children. The filth and darkness is a little more intimate because it doesn’t come about as the result of a card but as the result of a conversation. Eavesdropping (or occasionally hearing something you wish you hadn’t) is still possible but it’s less likely that people accidentally bear the brunt of it. There will usually be a lead-up that sets up the context.

These things mean that we can only give a very tentative recommendation in this category. Deck curation can be used to remove the worst cards, but aside from that it’s going to be very much down to the group and the extent to which each member is comfortable in performing.

Physical Accessibility

Each player needs to hold only a hand of four cards, and really it doesn’t need to be held at all. You can use the ‘late to the interview’ variant outlined in the section on visual accessibility. If players don’t want to do that then someone else can handle the card-play – the interviewer represents a perfect candidate. You can even do your own variant in which you give the interviewer your ‘CV’ and have them quiz you on aspects in the order of their choice.

Almost all of the game is verbal and every physical component can be used in an accessible way even if you want to play with the vanilla rules. Some changes might be needed for the resume building section (make it turn based, for example) but you don’t lose much of what actually makes the game enjoyable.

We strongly recommend Funemployed in this category.

Communication

This is a problem category as you might imagine. The need for literacy is high as is the sophistication of the verbal dexterity needed to actually turn a hand of cons into a list of pros. You’ll need to employ puns, contextual coupling of words and contexts, and a whole pile of other things. Many words presented have no clear definition in context. For example, ‘grunt’ – does that mean you only speak in grunts? Or you were an infantry soldier? Does ‘pound’ mean you worked at a dog pound? You have a pound note? You pound things? You don’t mind being pounded?

Since the words don’t come with definitions you need to take into account the need to be flexible with imprecise qualifications. Similarly with the jobs – they don’t come with actual details so there’s a degree of navigating and playing around with the contours of the scenario.

And then you’re expected to be funny with it all.

We don’t recommend Funemployed in this category.

Socioeconomic Accessibility

There’s no art in the game and so no need to worry about representation except in terms of qualifications and jobs. In these there are a few that are traditionally gendered roles. For example, jobs include ‘Queen’, ‘Sperm Donor’, ‘The Bachelor’, ‘Gigolo’ and more. For that, I think it actually becomes funnier if you play against the gender expectations and go for it anyway. I’d like to see the game where Mrs Meeple explains why her chainsaw, field experience, work ethic and diplomatic immunity means she’d excel as a sperm donor. ‘Who said it was going to be my sperm?’

Funemployed box

Funemployed has an RRP of around £25, but you can occasionally find it on sale for a good deal less. You’ll get a lot out of the base box – I’ve played it dozens of times now and still feel no need for any expansion content. It also cleanly supports a ludicrous number of players. At higher player counts you may want to consider making use of an interview panel setup or perhaps simply more rapidly rotating interview allocations. In any case, if you did need a way to support 20 players of an evening you couldn’t go far wrong with this in some way, shape or form.

We’ll recommend Funemployed in this category.

Intersectional Accessibility

There aren’t any obvious intersectional issues that I can think of – for the most part Funemployed veers wildly between ‘completely accessible’ to ‘probably not very accessible at all’. The only category that might change on an intersection is the emotional accessibility category and that’s already hugely dependent on individual tastes. If someone isn’t possible to shock there’s nothing an intersectional accessibility concern would alter.

Funemployed plays very quickly for any individual interview but depending on the number of players being recruited there can be considerable amounts of downtime. There are variations you can adopt though that keep everyone involved throughout. For example, if you’re not being interviewed then you’re part of the interview panel, or everyone gets interviewed at once, or so on. Regardless of which mode you play, Funemployed is very accommodating to changing player counts and can easily scale up or down as people enter or leave play. In the end the scoring doesn’t really matter so as long as everyone is still having fun. People dropping in and out is not going to be a problem.

Conclusion

There’s not a lot of joy here for those where communication impairments or fluid intelligence impairments impact on creativity. People who hold certain topics to be off limits will also be ill-served by a game that is in large part about navigating constraints to make a funny pitch for why your inappropriate CV should get you a job. Everyone else though is likely to find the simple components of Funemployed don’t get in the way of playing.

Funemployed, Meeple Like Us, [CC-BY 4.0]
Colour BlindnessA
Visual AccessibilityA
Fluid IntelligenceD
MemoryA
Physical AccessibilityA
Emotional AccessibilityC-
Socioeconomic AccessibilityB
CommunicationD

It’s not surprising that some of these grades are so high – the fewer components a game presents, and the simpler those components are, the more accessible it will tend to be. Inaccessibility is often a byproduct of complexity – both in terms of game design and in terms of aesthetics. Funemployed has precious little of the latter and a very sharp, uncluttered approach to the former.

Funemployed is the game that I’d recommend people play rather than Cards Against Humanity. We gave it four stars in our review because as a game it is better in every respect – smarter, with more opportunities for creativity, with a much-reduced emphasis on the importance of ‘having the right card’. It can still be as funny, filthy or unabashedly dark as you like. We’d recommend you check it out, and we think based on our accessibility analysis that many people will be able to do exactly that.


A Disclaimer About Teardowns

Meeple Like Us is engaged in mapping out the accessibility landscape of tabletop games. Teardowns like this are data points. Games are not necessarily bad if they are scored poorly in any given section. They are not necessarily good if they score highly. The rating of a game in terms of its accessibility is not an indication as to its quality as a recreational product. These teardowns though however allow those with physical, cognitive and visual accessibility impairments to make an informed decision as to their ability to play.

Not all sections of this document will be relevant to every person. We consider matters of diversity, representation and inclusion to be important accessibility issues. If this offends you, then this will not be the blog for you. We will not debate with anyone whether these issues are worthy of discussion. You can check out our common response to common objections.

Teardowns are provided under a CC-BY 4.0 license. However, recommendation grades in teardowns are usually subjective and based primarily on heuristic analysis rather than embodied experience. No guarantee is made as to their correctness. Bear that in mind if adopting them.

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