The oldest story in the book

As a big fan of Vladimir Propp‘s work, I am sure narratology as a theme will keep popping back on this blog. In fact, I am surprised that it hasn’t. My particular interest with Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (1968) lies in the fact that gamification is such a hot buzzword right now but providing a sense of a quest, obstacles, tools, and rewards is actually another reapplication of the oldest story in the book.


(A snippet from my UE13 class note in 2004. 🙂 )

So you see I am generally underwhelmed by most gamification attempts. That said, here’s one that I appreciate and want to promote as much as my uninfluential self can.

The Korean journal SisaIN has just launched an online game to accompany its special issue on the national minimum wage – to help the readers understand what it is really like to live on a minimum wage (at an hourly rate of KRW 5,580 [approx. £3] in 2015 and KRW 5,210 in 2014) and that it would demand constant compromise of the quality of life.

The game is built based on two journalists’ actually living off minimum-wage jobs for one month. To start, you pick a character to play as. Once you do that, the first question you will asked is whether you are a type of person who needs to have a personal toilet.


I am that type of person and my housing choice immediately put a big hole in my budget to fill in throughout the game.

The second point that really hit me hard was when I (i.e. my character) was invited to a friend’s baby shower. A decision that I immediately had to make was whether I go empty-handed or with a present.


To put you out of suspense, my month ended in a deficit – despite having opted out of any recreational activity in response to every pop-up question.

There is a heated debate at the moment in Korea over how unrealistic the current rate is and why it needs to be upped to at least KRW 10,000. Against that backdrop, this game can be an exceptionally powerful tool to get the message across.

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