Developers often make games pitting the player against the government. Few, however, make games in praise of the government. Independent developer Mike Bithell of London, England, has announced the CRA Jam, a two-day online game development challenge allegedly in honor of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), “who are awesome, and deserve everyone’s love.”
Why would a developer in England start a development jam about a Canadian government agency? The inspiration inadvertently came from independent developer David S. Gallant of Toronto, Canada. On December 21, 2012, Gallant, then a part-time CRA customer service representative, released I Get This Call Every Day, a Choose Your Own Adventure-type game pitting the player, as a customer service representative like Gallant, against a difficult telephone caller. It reflected his feelings of having, as he remarked in the game’s trailer, “become nothing more than a numb meat popsicle.”
Although the game never identified the CRA explicitly as its setting, on January 29, 2013, the Toronto Star reported Canada’s Revenue Minister, Gail Shea, was displeased with Gallant and his game. That same day, Gallant lost his job. Shortly thereafter, Bithell announced the CRA Jam, and another development jam, Ludum Dare, announced it would be hosting the event.
The CRA Jam will take place February 2 and 3, 2013. Interested developers will need a Ludum Dare account to participate. Participants can submit their CRA-inspired creations through a form on the Ludum Dare website. The form will be available for a few days after February 3 “for anyone late to the party.” Gallant, a past Ludum Dare participant, will also be taking part.
For the latest information on the CRA Jam, check posts marked “CRAJam” on the Ludum Dare website, watch Mike Bithell’s Tumblr page, and search the hashtag #crajam on Twitter. Game ideas are already emerging on Twitter, as well as one call from a programmer seeking an artist collaborator. In addition, one game, Super Desk Job!, has already been submitted. Further submissions will be listed on the CRA Jam submission form.
As for Gallant, he has received an outpouring of support from the Internet community, I Get This Call Every Day buyers, and even online independent-game store Desura. Sales of the game are up “like 400%,” he tweets, making “over $5000” as of January 31, 2013. It has reached 39% on Steam Greenlight, up from 27% on January 29. Gallant has come to see his job termination as a blessing in disguise.
I Get This Call Every Day can be purchased from Gallant’s website, Indievania, and Desura. It costs $2.00 (USD) minimum; on Gallant’s website and Indievania, buyers can pay more if they wish. Currently, it only supports Windows.