Hyperbole has been the domain of videogame opinions practically since the invention of the medium (“Pong is the best thing ever!”), so it’s only natural that, somewhere along the line, a number of people started comparing videogames to work. It’s fun to play Super Mario Bros, but beating every single stage without warp zones? That’s work. Learning the exact death wall sequence in the Turbo Tunnel? That’s work. Wasting ten hours on putting Yiazmat in the grave? Totally work. Couple this with the innovation of trophies and achievements, and you could forgive someone for seeing that all-important “100% completion” achievement as work. And I can’t blame ‘em! 100% Completion in Final Fantasy 13 requires acquiring every item and forging every weapon, which I think can only be accomplished with an Excel spreadsheet and hours of battling trash mobs. Could that be described as anything but work?
But let’s revisit that Final Fantasy 13 example. In order to accomplish that 100% completion, you, player, are commanding a trio of magical warriors to fight voracious coyote monsters in life or death battles. At the end of each battle, you are rewarded with mystical crystal points and piles of crazy crap that may or may not aid you in your goal of collecting every damn thing on one of two unreal planets. Does that sound like work? In a way, maybe, but everything sounds a little more… fantasy than the usual drudgery of the office. And that’s what videogames are: they’re escapes, they’re fun, and those trophies aren’t there to turn a magical land into a dreary workplace; no, trophies are there to give you one more reason to return, one more excuse to hang out with Lightning and Hope and all your friends from this game world. They didn’t make sixty Mega Man games to keep you mindlessly glued to the couch, they made ‘em because they knew you wanted to spend more time with the Blue Bomber and all his big-eyed buddies. Videogames aren’t work! Videogames are fun!
And I know this because I have played WTF: Work Place Fun. This game is fuggin’ work.
Videogames are fun, and that’s because they’re designed to be fun. Something like Venetica might be a useless slog of a game, but somewhere, somehow, someone thought there was a way that was going to be entertaining. Let’s face it: videogames exist to make their makers some fat stacks of videogame cash, and the best way to get a piece of that pie is to get people talking about your game for some reason other than mocking it on Youtube. Castlevania is so fun! Let’s go play it together! … Or something like that. Thus, despite a number of games that people claim are simply there for “trolling the player”, all videogames are meant to be fun, even if the fun may come from some unexpected sources. Mario’s fun is obvious, and Freddy Fazbear presents fun in a very different, very bloodcurdling way. Videogames are like a theme park: whether you’re on the merry go round or the rollercoaster, one way or another, you’re finding a way to enjoy yourself.
But WTF isn’t the merry go round or the rollercoaster. WTF is… waiting in line. WTF might actually be getting puked on by the kid getting off the rollercoaster. And that kid’s name is Randy, and he had so many skittles today, you wouldn’t believe it.
Conceptually, WTF is basically like Warioware: you are presented with a series of minigames, and part of the challenge is not only the obvious “complete this minigame” but also figuring out exactly how to master this game in the most efficient way possible. Yes, you can just hammer the X button, but is that really the way you want to go? Oh, wait, sorry, it’s time for another minigame now, forget everything you just learned and try this new game. And, yes, without question, that kind of gaming can be fun. Ultimate Nintendo Remix might be my favorite game of the last generation for exactly that reason, and, inclusion of Little Mac or not, WTF has every opportunity to be just as fun.
But, despite the title, WTF is not fun. WTF takes its minigames to absurd extremes, and challenges the player not to survive or get the high score, but to obtain an insane score in the face of overwhelming boredom. The best example of this design theory is Pendemonium, a game wherein you are tasked with putting caps on pens. That’s it! Sometimes the pens are upside-down, and you have to press a button to flip said pen. That is the one and only challenge of Pendemonium. With a good rhythm, you can probably efficiently cap 1,000 pens in about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes. Just pen capping. And if you want to go for the high score, good luck, because the counter appears to enter into the billions. Assuming I’m doing my math right here, that means you could 100% complete this game sometime around the end of the Trump administration. Oh, and I’m talking about Ivanka. She’s due to be elected in 2032.
And Pendemonium is not an outlier. There’s a baseball minigame that involves catching fly balls… but there will be a number of pop flies that don’t remotely require movement. There’s a game that is based on sorting an endless, monotonous supply of chicks (to be clear, that would the small, chirpy kind of chicks). And, yes, there is certainly a game that includes all the fun of watching clay harden in a kiln. And the more active games aren’t much better, as they’re mostly do-or-die affairs where you’ll fail within the opening moments. Or maybe you would enjoy playing Simon Says with a group of burping muppets, or counting random people on a street crowded with anthropomorphic ducks and aliens. It’s pretty bad when the most fun you can have in this game is with a vague recreation of Frogger.
But, then again, that’s the point.
WTF is a sin eater for its videogame brethren. WTF is not meant to be fun, it is meant to illuminate exactly what can go wrong in other videogames. Impossible goals and boring gameplay are the antithesis of what any videogame should feature, and WTF revels in that depravity. Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall is not trolling the player, that was somehow meant to be fun. WTF is a videogame that is trolling the player. WTF is work, and it celebrates the pain of putting too much effort into a teeny, tiny paycheck.
Work Time Fun is a deliberately bad game so that we know that other games are fun.
FGC #293 WTF: Work Time Fun
- System: PSP. I assume this is also available for the Vita in some way or another.
- Number of players: Like so many forgotten PSP games, WTF has online and local multiplayer options for trading items and competing against each other. Also, like so many PSP games, no one has ever found another person with a PSP to actually try these features.
- Favorite Minigame: Mushroom Crossing is pretty much just Frogger, and, thus, pretty much okay. Look, in a game that is actively trying to kill you at all times, you take what you can get.
- What’s in a name? In Japan, WTF is known as Beit Hell 2000, or, basically, Part Time Job Hell 2000. I want to additionally note that this game was released in 2005.
- Did you know? I don’t think anyone would play the Persona series if Protag’s after-school jobs were anywhere near this annoying.
- Would I play again: I actually might if this winds up as a downloadable title on a system I actually use portably (so that rules out the Vita). Though I really doubt we’ll be seeing WTF3D, so probably not.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Skullmonkeys for the Playstation! Monkeys, clay, and monkeys made of clay for days! Please look forward to it!