Funemployed review

Funemployed (2014) (NSFW)

Game Details
NameFunemployed (2013)
Accessibility ReportMeeple Like Us
ComplexityLight [1.19]
BGG Rank1681 [6.88]
Player Count (recommended)3-20 (3-7)
Designer(s)Anthony Conta
Artist(s)Uncredited
Buy it!Amazon Link

TL;DR: It's great! You should probably play it if you can!

I’m no gaming prude. I like Cards Against Humanity as much as the next person. That is if the next person had also written their own interactive digital version of it for an online game that literally ones of people play. I have had a lot of fun with CAH, and under the right circumstances it’s still a very enjoyable way to spend an evening. It’s a shitty game though and whenever anyone suggests playing it I will tend to recommend Funemployed as an alternative. That’s when I’m not recommending Once Upon a Time because let me tell you – improvised fairy tales get dark.

Funemployed is the game that Cards Against Humanity could have been if it was focused less on the breadth of imagery and more interested in the depth of the cardplay. Funemployed can do an awful lot more with fewer cards because it substitutes player creativity where convenient juxtaposition would otherwise reign. When Cards Against Humanity is funny it’s usually when the stars have aligned and you have the perfect card for the question that was just asked. When Funemployed is funny it’s because the scenario is inherently ridiculous and yet completely intuitive. Who hasn’t been in the position of bluffing their way through an interview for a position for which they were dangerously unqualified? Hell, that’s basically the only kind of interview I’ve ever done.

Funemployed box

And yet if you look at it with jaded eyes Funemployed has virtually nothing that seems to distinguish it from a hundred other ‘questions and a hand of answer cards’ party games. It even has many cards that are obviously designed to make infiltrations into the beach-head of ‘horrible games for horrible people’. Few of the cards are inherently funny and for the ones that are it’s because they are unexpected. The premise is as shallow as a mouse’s grave – you have a hand of four cards that represent your qualifications for a job. One player around the table is the interviewer for that said job. You try to convince them to give you the job based on your qualifications.

It’s like every second game you see on Kickstarter. It’s just a massive wodge of cards into which went zero aesthetic effort and seemingly the same amount of design. It’s in a box designed to hold cards and do nothing more. The rules come on a printed sheet of A4 paper that gets folded up like a cheap insert in a tabloid newspaper. The qualification cards are just words. The job cards are just different words. There’s no reason Funemployed should get you excited because it’s just like every white dudebro you’d see hanging around a Chiang Mai co-working space – identical and interchangeable with a hundred others.

A terrible CV

It’s only when you start playing that its more agreeable qualities really emerge.

Let’s say you’re the candidate coming along for a fictional job in Funemployed. You get dealt out a hand of four cards that represent your life skills or assets – resources that you’re going to leverage to convince the interviewer that you deserve the job they have on offer. On the table the interviewer will spread a set of ten other randomly dealt cards. After this, the interviewer reveals the job for which everyone is competing.

Masseuse job

Before the interviews begin there’s a phase of ‘resume building’ where people swap out their cards for other cards on the table. It’s like Galaxy Trucker except the competition is for a terrible job rather than a fiery space death. You might decide that maybe ‘moocher’ isn’t going to do you much in this circumstance but you have an idea for how you can make your chronic masturbation habit an asset. Everyone, including the employer, is working on their hand for a couple of minutes to make it a CV they can effectively sell. Or at least, sell better than anyone else at the table.

When that’s done, the employer will turn to a player and say ‘So, you’re here about this masseuse job? Tell me why I should hire you?’. The employer might embellish, set the scene, maybe put some unexpected complication in front of people. It’s your choice, really.

From that point, the game is on. You can be as strict or as loose as you like – the employer can give the interview candidate a hard time, or just let them tell a story. They can approve or disapprove or sit in stern silence. They can compare to previous candidates or keep everything quiet. Your group can decide how it should work best for who is playing.

‘You know what the worst thing is about being a masseur’, you ask. The interviewer shakes their head. ‘It’s those people that just lie there and never give you any response to what you’re doing. They never give you any feedback, and it’s really hard to work out what to do with a limp fish on your table’

Communes with fishes

‘Not for me though. I can just, you know, basically pull their feels right out their head. I know if they’re enjoying it or not, or if they need more pressure or less, or maybe just need to be fried with a bit of salt and butter until they’re nice and lovely. I know what’s on their mind.’

You take a breath. Everyone is grinning.

‘But you know the second worst thing?’, you ask.

‘The fact that you’re suggesting that you’d eat our clientele?’, the interviewer asks in reply.

‘No, the expense that comes with training and outfitting a masseuse. I mean, there are tools that they’ll expect to have. You know, like oils and rollers and wet wipes and the like. That’s expensive, and it’s a cost you will need to bear.’

‘Wet wipes?’, asks a worried employer.

Adding in brass knuckles

‘Not me though! I come with my own equipment. Look at these bad boys – made them myself from my own special design. They really let me get down into the muscles and dig in there. Get right down to the toxins and tensions. You know when they’re screaming the loudest that’s when it’s working the most, yeah?’

‘Uh… sort of? But that sounds like it would generate an awful lot of complaints.’

‘Oh no. Oh no no. I can assure you that won’t be a problem. I make sure that my clients are completely satisfied. At the end, I guarantee every client will be happy. Very happy. At the end. Do you get what I am saying?’

‘I get what you’re saying’, nods the interviewer.

‘I mean happy endings, right? I mean like… really making sure that the client has a satisfying climax to their massage.’

‘Yes, I get it, thanks.’

Adding in chronic masturbator

‘I’m going to wank off the clients, is what I’m saying’

‘YES I UNDERSTOOD THAT. We don’t really run that kind of… ’

‘I mean, I do that a lot anyway and it doesn’t really matter whose junk my hand is on. I mean, I can do mine and theirs at the same time too and that’s pretty efficient. I’m willing to bet not one other applicant to this job will be offering mutual and synchronised masturbation. You’ll be glad I’m bringing my own equipment when you see your wet wipe bill.’

‘Well that’s great but we really need to get on…’

‘There’s one other special piece of kit I bring to the massage table too.’

‘Lot of other interview candidates to see, you understand I’m sure’

Magic Wand

‘Uh’, says the interviewer.

‘My magic wand!’

‘Like, in Harry Potter?’

‘No, I mean my Magic Wand ™ branded vibrator. Certified for insertion wherever the client would like it. And if they’d prefer not, well – it would let me keep one of my own hands free while I’m…’

‘THANK YOU FOR COMING. I MEAN, COMING IN. TO THIS INTERVIEW.’

‘Nailed it’, you think.

‘But there’s one other thing’, the interviewer asks. They look down at the hand of cards they’ve been holding all along.

Remember how I said they were building their hand too? This is why – the Columbo moment where they give you a qualification that you need to justify. They slap a card down in front of you. ‘It says here that you’re a staunch conservative. How does that square with this frankly alarming interview?’

And then the pressure is on you to bring it all to a… satisfying climax… with some judicious massaging of this new information.

‘I’m all about small business’, you say. ‘I’m a fiscal conservative not a social conservative. I believe that the important thing in a business is that it offers a service that its customers would want, and it offers it at a price-point that the market can bear. Trust me, people will pay for my services. They do down at the docks anyway’

‘Thank you… can… can we have the next applicant please? Sorry, no – I don’t think I will be shaking your hand’

Funemployed isn’t just a clone of CAH – it’s perhaps the perfection of the formula. I’m not saying that it’s a perfect game – far from it. Just that I can’t see where this style of game design goes from this point forward. Every meaningful problem I have with CAH is beautifully resolved within Funemployed. I mean, look at the scenario above. You don’t have weak cards in your hand because you get to swap them out and in any case you are the one that makes them good or bad.  You’re not playing to get the job, not really – you’re playing to make people laugh and the worse you are at selling your skills the funnier it’s likely to be. You’ll play out every single card you have during an interview, so you don’t need to worry about the bad cards that gradually accumulate into your hand and turn it into a comedy graveyard.

A second set of qualifications

Every card you get is going to be relevant because you’re not really matching the cards to the questions. You’re matching the cards to each other and then to the job. The game is in the interaction of players with their judge, not their answer cards against the question card. It’s a collaborative experience too, or at least it can be. You and the interviewer are engaged in a show for the rest of the table and it’s on both of you to make it entertaining. As such, the interviewer usually doesn’t sit there cold and impassive waiting for you to finish. They banter. They hone in on what makes people laugh and they set up a punchline for you. Or they deliver the punchline that you didn’t see you’d dangled. It’s like a waltz where you’re in a double act but you’re both the comic and the stooge whenever it’s convenient. The spotlight isn’t on you – it’s on the act.

The cards in Funemployed generally aren’t driven by shock value, they’re driven by their wide applicability. Since you as a candidate are four cards versus a job even when you’ve seen the cards for the tenth time you’re still getting mileage out of their presence in context. They’re the raw material for the joke – not the punchline. As such they can stay fresh for a long time. The chronic masturbator qualification takes on a very different tone when you’re a drill sergeant versus a barista. Or if you’re an adult store cashier versus a world record holder. It also makes a huge difference with regards to the intersections of cards. ‘Chronic masturbator’ plus ‘shame’ plus ‘lives with parents’ is going to result in a very different interview to ‘Chronic masturbator’ plus ‘gambling addition’ plus ‘xray vision’. Really there’s no such thing as a ‘card’ in Funemployed – not as a meaningful unit of gameplay. There’s just a CV which is made up of four of them. Or more, if you like. Or fewer!

The card design here also is a complete opposite from the top-down design that infects CAH. Funemployed in the CAH sense would have a job ‘coffee maker’ and a qualification ‘is shit at making coffee’ that was designed to pair with it. Funemployed sacrifices the occasional joy of a perfect intersection in favour of a more reliable, and more relatable, set of qualifications. There isn’t a perfect qualification for each job, but good qualifications for every job. That is to say, ‘good’ in this sense is ‘you’ll have fun with it’ rather than ‘people would hire you’.

Reading the Card Tzar in Cards Against Humanity is usually a case of playing a card that matches their sense of humour. There’s much more interaction and byplay in Funemployed and much, much more room for creativity. There’s scope for callbacks and meta-information and injokes and even a sustained narrative. ‘Uh, I just passed a guy on the way in to this interview and he was pulling himself off while yelling ‘Engorgio’. Is that… is that part of the job specification?’.

However, for all of this there’s a catch – it’s only going to be as funny as its players. Cards Against Humanity has a low barrier to entry – the cards are going to be funny. They do the work for you. In Funemployed that’s not the case – your CV is rarely inherently comic. It’s your job to make people laugh from it and that means that if that can’t be done consistently the game is almost certainly going to fall flat. Worse, if everyone else at the table is funny and you aren’t… well. We’ll talk about that more in the teardown. Suffice to say that the real qualifications in Funemployed are those that belong to the people playing it. Psyche yourself up – there are no comedy freeloaders in this office environment.

Funemployed shows that you don’t need to be crass or filled to the brim with grotesque sexual imagery in order to be incredibly dark and genially offensive. When I last played this with some students at the RGU game night one of the players was interviewing for the role of a child actor and their cards told a grim story of well… I’m sure you can imagine. None of the cards inherently sent the story that way. That’s a much cleverer, and more consensual, way of building the Cards Against Humanity experience into a classier gaming context.

For the most part what Cards Against Humanity lets you do is enjoy the darkness at the heart of its creators. Funemployed lets you enjoy the darkness at the heart of your friends and that’s far, far more satisfying. And a great deal more consistently funny. This is the game that means you need never play CAH ever again.

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