tiltfactor » LAYOFF


Tiltfactor’s Values at Play project releases “Layoff,”  a game used to study empathy, with the financial crisis as a background context.

Developed by Tiltfactor Lab and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Game Design and Development program, LAYOFF is a casual game that also offers researchers an examination of how empathy operates in a game based on a time of crisis. Both friends and strangers face tough times in an unstable economy. In the game, players play from the side of management needing to cut jobs. Players match types of workers in groups in order to lay the workers off and increase workforce efficiency. Who do you empathize with and why?




  • Designer: Mary Flanagan
  • Based on the initial idea of Angela Ferraiolo
  • Game Programming: Greg Kohl, RIT student
  • Art: Grace Ching-Yung, Peng, Jennifer Jacobs
  • Music: Paul Orbell
  • Content Development: Jay Bachhuber, Zsuzsa Mitro
  • Video and Tutorials: Anna Lotko, Chris Takeuchi
  • Playtesting: Brendan Scully
  • Assessment: Jonathan Belman
  • Software Engineering Direction: Dr. Christopher Egert
  • Thanks to Angela Ferraiolo for contributing to the initial idea


Research based on this game (see our study on Empathy!) was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Collaborative Research: SoD-TEAM:
Values at Play: Integrating Ethical and Political Factors into System Design, CNS-0613867

  • Tiltfactor invents new ways of thinking about important social issues through engaging games and play. Founded and directed by leading innovator Dr. Mary Flanagan, Tiltfactor is the award-winning design studio and research laboratory that takes on problem areas of national need and creates solutions through playful design.