This Singapore-made card game is about surviving the corporate world

·Contributor
·5 min read
Arranged cards of Employee of the Month (Photo: Alexander Lim)
Employee of the Month hit its crowd-funding goal in two days. (Photo: Alexander Lim)

At S$20 a pack and a modest S$3,100 goal, card game Employee of the Month needed just 155 buy-ins to reach its goal.

It hit that in just two days, and still had 28 days left to go. Understandably, the game's Singaporean creator, 30-year-old Alexander Lim, was surprised, saying he did not expect to hit the crowdfunding goals so early.

Employee of the Month (EotM), is a two to six player game that is all about surviving the corporate world. Each turn, players can play work cards or politics cards to gain the favour of their bosses. Make their boss angry enough times though, and they get fired. The last standing employee is the winner.

Alexander Lim poses with the cards from his game. (Photo: Alexander Lim)
Alexander Lim created the card game after being inspired by work. (Photo: Alexander Lim)

Inspired by, well, working, Lim said he recalled drinking beer with his colleagues and complaining about how insane the work week was. They were sharing their work stories trying to outdo each other.

"One of my friends would talk about her crazy demanding boss, the other his dating exploits, another about the creeps around the office, and even another about other bitchy colleagues. This went on through the night, us swapping stories, laughing and more or less airing our grievances to one another," said Lim.

The experience made Lim realised that they were talking like war buddies, and the "relatability of that shared experience" had bonded them together and changed them from being "mere hi-bye colleagues to friends".

It was also then when Lim realised that everyone had a crazy work story to tell.

That eureka moment made him go home and dig out an old notebook of ideas, one that contained a card game idea he had thought about. This time, though, he had a theme to match.

Image of Employee of the Month card game packaging: (Photo: Alexander Lim)
Lim spent the two years of the pandemic working on EotM after finishing his day job. (Photo: Alexander Lim)

Pandemic design

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home, Lim spent the two years of the pandemic working on EotM after finishing his day job.

Designing this game was also a form of therapy for his experience in jobs where he had to deal with "working overtime, departmental conflicts, unreasonable requests from bosses, scheming colleagues and of course the dreaded restructuring exercises".

"I wanted a game where people could sit around and go like, 'Oh damn yeah this happened to me before or oh yeah my boss is exactly like that!' Making this game allowed me to dig deep and pour out previously painful experiences about work, expose them through print and laugh at their absurdity along with my players," added Lim.

Close-up of cards from Employee of the Month. (Photo: Alexander Lim)
The illustrations were done by artist Jia Ning, a zookeeper by day. (Photo: Alexander Lim)

Thanks to those experiences, Lim was able to distill the flavour of the situations into his cards and work the mechanics into the game.

One of his favourite cards is called "The Boss' Favourite" where playing it lets you draw three cards – which is powerful – but forces you to get targeted by everyone else.

"Isn’t that part of being the boss’s favourite? You get so many new opportunities but also you draw the ire of your fellow colleagues who are just waiting to tear you down," mused Lim.

While he had designed the mechanics, he reached out to artist Jia Ning (@sheldonartory on Instagram) to be the lead artist.

Ning, a zookeeper by day, agreed to work on the project together over the course of the last year and a half. Lim was full of praise for her work ethic, stating that she had a very unique art style that makes the game stand out, and that she was always meeting him to discuss the project. Interestingly, due to the pandemic, they have not yet met in real life.

Ning, on the other hand, posted on Instagram that that the project had "sparked" her joy in drawing again as she was about to give up on her art. She had started "doodling on things" that she liked while waiting for her sketches to be approved.

New place, balanced life

After leaving his previous gig, which he said had helped inspired the game, Lim has been enjoying time at in a new role at a new company.

While interviewing for the job, he had mentioned the game and the reactions of his colleagues have been really positive.

"The best part about this new gig is that they give me the freedom and trust to experiment with new ideas for them. I am a content producer by day and they constantly encourage me to try new things and foster a great collaborative environment," said Lim.

Close-up of cards from Employee of the Month. (Photo: Alexander Lim)
Lim has no plans for an expansion yet. (Photo: Alexander Lim)

Lim has no plans yet for an expansion, but he does have some ideas if he does decide to do so.

He wants to concentrate on delivering the finished product, and work on getting shipping and distribution done right first, stating he wanted to wrap this one up neatly before moving on.

And if you've been inspired by this and want to create your own game, Lim has some great advice.

"First would be if you have an idea just do it, even if it sounds stupid. Like my first iteration of the game was terrible but I just decided to press on and keep refining it. Second would be to not get distracted, over time there are shinier new projects to take on, like I almost got sucked into Warhammer and D&D, but stay focused on your goals," said Lim.

Lim also recommended checking out this guide on creating a project on Kickstarter, stating he wished he had known about it before he started on his project.

You can check out Employee of the Month's Kickstarter here. The crowdfunding ends on 6 July.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com

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