Sunday, May 25, 2008


Coming Soon: Job-Hunting in Korea

To the board of directors at Rockstar Games,

You are the developers of such popular, if controversial, titles such as Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and the more socially-conscious Grand Theft Hybrid Vehicle. It is because of your past innovations that I'm writing to you with a proposal for a new game.

It would be titled Job-Switching in Korea, and while it might not sound particularly exciting, I can promise that it will provide gamers with a lifetime of challenges.

Each player would start by choosing their identity: he or she would have to be a non-Korean living in Seoul and holding a decent job, though not one they'd be interested in retiring with.

The game would begin with them seeing an advertisement for a new job, one that would have to be considered a step up in his/her career path. After they've prepared their résumé and set up the job interview, their natural job-hunting instincts should be able to take it from here: they probably already know to pick out their best two-piece suit and matching tie/pantsuit and matching heels and prepare their portfolio.

If they've gone job hunting before, they probably know that they'll have to wear this outfit to their current job, because they lack the time it would take to go home after work, change into their best non-gender specific suit and then head across town to their interview.

They should then know how to deflect questions at their current job about why their wearing a suit. Options include: "I have a date," "Tonight's a special night for my fringe religious sect," and, "I just felt like wearing this today." (The last one may result in bonus points since it is not, technically, a lie.)

Then, certainly, they should know how make a good impression with the potential employer, be it through their punctuality, their admirably good posture, or perhaps their encyclopedic knowledge of The Office (British edition).

If the gamer knows how to execute each of these tasks proficiently, the game would then send them notice that they've been offered the job. Now, as the developers and distributors of Job-Switching, it'd be of critical importance that you keep this next part under wraps.

Once the job offer has been received, the gamer will probably be expecting to see their high score on the screen, plus a congratulatory message to appear on screen, possibly alongside some pixilated beauties in bikinis holding a trophy.

Imagine how surprised they will be when they find out that, in fact, they haven't "beaten" the game; in fact, it's hardly begun. Next, their new employer will send over a list of demands (which they will call "procedures," but even the former president Clinton would struggle to differentiate between the two on the witness stand) he/she must meet in order to have their visa status changed.

If the gamer is unfamiliar with what it's like to be a non-Korean working in Seoul, the concept of "visa status" might have never occurred to them. However, like all non-Koreans working in the world's third-largest city (some say second) a change in visa status is required to switch jobs. Without the change in status, the gamer won't be able to a) get paid, or b) stay in Korea.

The list of demands/procedures will include one's resume, their diploma, two pictures with a precise measurement in centimeters, and a "certificate of employment" from one's current and possibly previous job.

In order to make it really, really challenging, you should place one of the character's previous jobs in America, where the concept of "certificate of employment" doesn't exist. If the gamer's new employer wants them to start in two weeks, it will take some truly creative reasoning (if not outright forgery or black magic) to acquire one from their former stateside job.

Then there's the matter of diplomas: since they have been working in Korea for, let's say, two-and-a-half years, this means they sent their university diploma to their current employer about three years ago when they applied for the job. Give them a list of offices at their current employer (such as International Affairs, Human Resources, Employee Relations, Office for the Misplacing of Important University Papers, etc.), all of which seem like a place where such a document may be stores, and send them on the hunt.

No matter which office the gamer chooses to go to first, they should be informed once they arrive that it's actually the office next door that should have it. This search can continue as long as you, the manufacturers, wish to inflict confusion upon the gamer. It would be a really nice touch if, during the search, the new employer would send the character regular emails inquiring as to why the diploma/certificate of employment hasn't been sent in yet.

As time ticks on, and it's nearly time for the character to start their new job, the gamers might choose to supply the gamers with one or more "cheat codes." One of these would enable the gamer to leave the country and come back on a "tourist visa" long enough for his/her university to send a new copy of the diploma and for their previous American employer to conjure a certificate of employment out of nothingness.

Another cheat code would enable the gamer's character to simply marry a Korean citizen, thus allowing them to change their visa on their own, and not require any university documents at all.

You would then have all the elements in place for successful game. However, where most of the games you have developed in the past have been rated "M" for "mature," I feel this game ought to be rated "CG," for "college graduates only."

The strictness of this rating is not due to any graphic violence or superfluous sexual content, but because any gamer younger than college age would likely not want to work in a foreign country after that. In fact, they might choose to live in their parents' house for the rest of their lives and pick a workplace no more complicated than the Pizza Hut around the corner as their life's work.

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