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Layoffs: The Videogame

One of the most frustrating things about layoffs is that they’re completely out of your control.

tiltfactor

Well, the tables have turned, my friend.

Tiltfactor Lab and the Values at Play project, in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology, have launched “Layoff,” a videogame meant to be part entertainment, part economic commentary.

Players play as “management,” facing rows of workers, each with an individual story that pops up when you roll your mouse over him/her: Everyone from a book-store salesman with immigration issues to a mechanic who loves hip hop and a bank teller/tango dancer.

Even the bankers have stories, but guess what? You can't lay them off! Har har. So their stories are more like protest signs: “Mortgage bankers have been unfairly focused upon as the primary cause of the problem” one reads. Another says, “I was shocked I would be joining a lower-tiered bank!”

Here’s how you play: You make workers switch places so you get a lineup of three or more similar workers in order to “improve efficiency.”

Three in a row? Whoops! Sorry guys, you're redundant.

Basically, it’s like the table-top game “Connect Four” — only with layoffs instead of checkers!

Once you get a lineup of workers, they get “laid off,” pushed to the bottom of the screen where they mull around the unemployment office, mingling, chatting and yes, even taking smoke breaks! (Hey, they're unemployed, cut 'em some slack.)

As you lay off workers, with ambient arcade muzak in the background, a money counter in the top right tallies how many millions — or billions — you’ve saved.

Lay off workers and watch your savings grow.

Cha-ching!

If you get stuck, just click the “Bank Bailout” button.

All the while, a ticker is going across the screen with real-life headlines and stats about the economy, bailout and bank scandals.

It’s not terribly gratifying because there doesn’t appear to be a way to “win” — or lose for that matter — but then again, that’s life, right?

In the meantime, it’s a fun way to pass the time. And, the next time you’re in a bookstore or drugstore and there are a gaggle of employees behind the counter but it’s still taking a ridiculously long time, just close one eye and with your thumb, line them up and lay them off.

Ooh, I’m sorry. Yeah, we’re not going to need you anymore.

And cue the WINNER! arcade music:

Didla-didla-didla-ba-ba-bip!

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Questions? Comments? Write to ponyblog@cnbc.com.

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