IT workers -- the new frogs of Frogger

An online game mixes about offshore outsourcing with the fun of Frogger.

Are you worried that the offshore outsourcing wave will wash away your job?

Do you like Frogger?

There's a place in cyberspace where you can mix your jitters with your jumping prowess.

The Tech Worker Challenge at TechsUnite.org, an online community for IT workers, is a game where a white-collar IT guy stands at the side of a four-lane highway. Speeding trucks from Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Sun and HP are barreling eastbound and westbound. They all either have faulty brakes or have the truck driver from the movie Duel behind the wheel. The idea is for you to get the IT guy across all the lanes to the opposite side without letting him become roadkill. There are nine IT guys who need safe passage, and the more you get across safely, the faster the trucks drive.

Sounds a lot like Frogger, doesn't it? Only this game has a message. If one of the big rigs gigs your "frog," or in this case, your IT guy, one of several messages will pop up, adding insults to what is surely grievous injury:

  • You've been laid off without notice!
  • Your job has been shipped overseas!
  • Are you a U.S. citizen? You're fired!
  • Old and washed up at 40!
  • What benefits? You're a temp worker!
  • Pay back those unemployment benefits!
  • You've been sued over a non-compete!
  • You've been blacklisted!

Get the idea? Funny how you get hit by a truck, then you get the bad news from work. As if eating a speeding Kenworth's grill isn't bad enough!

The median is an illusory safe harbor. Trap doors can open up randomly and swallow the poor IT guy. An evil turtle tries to take out the IT guy while he tries to catch his breath. If your man falls victim to the door or the reptile, more messages pop up, like "60 hour weeks -- no overtime!" and "Your pension is being robbed!" But if you can get him across those last two lanes in one piece, you'll see this message:

"Congratulations! You have helped this worker to gain a voice at work, a say in state and federal policies affecting IT workers, and the freedom to choose union representation. Unfortunately, thousands of IT workers don't have this collective power. Here's how you can help."

You then can click on links to send the game to a friend, keep playing, or go to the TechsUnite.org Web site and read more about the issue.

See -- it's like Frogger with a message. Instead of a pleasant amphibian trying to cross a perilous river and highway, a fretting IT guy tries to survive the unyielding, unstoppable traffic flow of corporate IT trends.

At least you don't have to insert any quarters. And it's fun to play chicken with the HP truck. But you have to wonder what's next -- a version of Pac-Man where foreign companies eat up little job dots?

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