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Sunday 12 June 2016

Suitably Unqualified

In the wake of Cards Against Humanity, there has come a slew of party games designed primarily to be played by adults, such as Bucket of Doom, or at least by an older audience, such as Love 2 Hate. What these games have in common is that they have one player asking a question to which the other players supply the answers from which the asking player makes a selection, typically for comedic effect. In this they follow a design first seen in the highly popular Apples to Apples party game, but other designs have since taken the design and begun to do more with what amounts to a big, fat box of question and answer cards. For example, The Metagame from Local No. 12 uses the format to build not just one game, but several, all within the one box; Gorilla Games’ Who Would Win? has the players not only select an answer card, but also justify said card; and Funemployed has the players not only select an answer card, but use four answer cards and then justify them.

Recently republished by Urban Island Games following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Funemployed: The party game of real jobs and unreal qualifications. is a game in which the players are the Applicants for a job for which they are highly unqualified for, but are forced to apply using the Qualifications they have on the cards they hold. For example, the players have to apply for the role of a Gangster, for which one player has the Qualifications ‘Ambidextrous’, ‘Drive’, ‘Handlebars’, and ‘Loose’, another has ‘Crack’, ‘False Teeth’, ‘Gluttony’, and ‘Scalpel’, and ‘Excuses’, ‘Online Degree’, ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Red Sea’.

Designed to be played by between three and twenty potential Applicants, Funemployed comes as a box containing seventy-two Black Job Cards, three-hundred-and-twenty Green Qualification Cards, and a rules sheet. Each Black Job Card is headed with the term ‘Help Wanted’, below which is a job title, such as ‘Used Car Salesman’ or ‘Dominatrix’. One is marked with the phrase, ‘My Job’. This Black Job card is always included in a game and when drawn indicates the last round of interviews. Each Green Qualification Card is marked with a tick or check-mark and a Qualification, like ‘Day Job’, ‘Italian Accent’, ‘Lisp’, ‘Night Terrors’, ‘Scented Candle’, ‘Time Machine’, and ‘Trench Coat’.

At the start of the game, a deck of sixteen Black Job Cards is drawn, shuffled, and the ‘My Job’ Job Card is inserted into the lower half of the Black Job Card deck. Each player or Applicant receives four Green Job Cards as his Resume, whilst another ten are placed out, face up, where everyone can see them.

One player is chosen to be the Employer. He turns the first Black Job Card over and reads it out. Each Applicant has a minute to work out how to use his Resume to apply for the Job, but he can also rebuild his Resume by swapping Qualification Cards from his hand with those on the table.
For example, Ruth is the Employer and turns over the Job Card, ‘Competitive Eater’. Louise has the Qualification Cards, ‘Dirty’, ‘Hook’, ‘Red Panda’, and ‘Room to Grow’ as her Resume, whilst Theresa has the Qualification Cards, ‘Beefcake’, ‘Pathological Liar’, ‘Recess’, and ‘Utterly Adorable’ as her Resume. First Ruth turns to Louise and asks her to explain why she is qualified to be employed as a ‘Competitive Eater’. Louise answers, “As a Competitive Eater, I am quite prepared to get my face down onto the plate and thus ‘Dirty’, where I can use my ‘Hook’ for a hand to scoop food into my mouth. Further, my time spent training with a ‘Red Panda’ family means that I can digest almost anything, including bamboo leafs and because a lot of leafs are needed to in order to get a square meal, I have ‘Room to Grow’ and eat prodigious amounts. Ruth mulls this over before proceeding to Theresa and asking the same question. Theresa responds with “My Beefcake’ figure hides a ‘Recess’ for putting away the food from the competition, but if you do not believe me because I am a ‘Pathological Liar’, then I am sure that neither you nor the judges will find this to be a problem because I am of course, ‘Utterly Adorable’.” Ruth decides that while Louise’s ‘Hook’ will be useful, it might be too sinister and decides that although Theresa might not have the right Qualifications to be a ‘Competitive Eater’, being ‘Utterly Adorable’ more than makes up for it and awards Theresa the ‘Competitive Eater’ Black Job Card as the ‘Most Qualified’.
At the end of the round, all of the used Qualification Cards are discarded and new ones drawn. The next player to the left becomes the Employer, a new Black Job Card is drawn, and play proceeds as normal. The game continues until the ‘My Job’ Black Job Card is drawn. It is up to the Employer who drew this to decide if the Applicants are applying for his real life, actual job, or a job of his choosing. At the end of the round, the Applicant with the most Black Job Cards in front of him is the winner.

Physically, Funemployed is a plain and simple looking game. The cards are all of a good quality and having the names on each Qualification Card printed twice, once upside down, is a nice touch as it makes them easy to read from either side of the table. The rules are also simple and once the box is open, a game can be started in a few minutes. The game though, does have three problems. The first is its audience, as not everyone likes this kind of party game and the creativity and humour that it engenders. So sometimes a game can be dull because of this. The second is that it is an American game, so some of the Jobs and the Qualifications may not be familiar to everyone despite the ubiquity of American culture. Third and lastly, the game states that it is for players aged thirteen and up, but a minority of both card types are of a sexual or adult nature, and that in addition to the cards that can be interpreted as such, which means that out of the box, Funemployed is not suitable as a family game or a game suitable for players that young.

Nevertheless, Funemployed is a fun game, one that requires the players to be inventive and clever in how they explain the usefulness and applicability of their Qualification Cards. In fact, having to use all four cards forces each Applicant to be inventive and to think about their explanation to the Interviewer. Now having to use the four cards in his hand might mean that a player could be stuck with something unsuitable for the current Job or something that he just cannot quite explain how it applies, but having the ten Qualification Cards out on the table and being able to swap them to build a Resume means that a player can alleviate this problem by replacing one bad Qualification with one better. 

Despite the problems with this game and with this type of game, Funemployed: The party game of real jobs and unreal qualifications. is nice addition to the Apples to Apples style of party game. It requires the players to think about how they use their cards and gives everyone the opportunity to be creative rather than just give an answer card.

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