This article explores the discourses and realities surrounding life and labor in contemporary Japan through a keitai (smartphone) game entitled Days of Love and Labor (Ai to rōdō no hibi). While promising players a simulated employment experience in order to reflect on the possibility of happiness in life, what the game ultimately delivers is a simulation of unmanageable debt and alienation. The author's argument treats Days of Love and Labor as a form of serious play as it inquires into the possible appeal behind this simulation. The first part of the article draws on an interview with the game's developers to explore the way in which the game's salaryman employment paradigm intersects with current discourses surrounding youth and employment in contemporary Japan. In this context, the author argues that the game valorizes a certain information labor ideal within a neoliberal schema of human capital. The article's second part turns to an online discussion of the game. There the author shows that the way in which players receive the game contradicts the game developers' intentions. The author further argues that this mode of reception potentially transforms simulated debt from an alienating experience and provocation for solitary reflection on the (un)happiness of life under capitalism into a medium of collective reflection.

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