by Mike Masnick

Play Games At Work

from the interesting-idea... dept

John writes in with a link to an interesting article about whether or not people should be allowed to play video games at work. I've argued often enough that companies shouldn't worry about people surfing the internet from work, especially since studies have shown they make up the work. More to the point, though, I think it's more of a drain on productivity when you're working non-stop for many hours without giving your brain a chance to cool off, or work on something different. Providing some sort of break makes sense. It's why most people take little breaks on their own - whether to talk to their neighbor, grab some food, or just stare off into space. So, what about playing video games at work? The writer argues that it's probably better than just having someone snooze off - on the assumption they're going to unproductive during those breaks anyway. He even argues that it encourages skills that are useful for productivity (though, that may depend on the person's job). Of course, one issue with games is that they can become somewhat addictive, and tough to stop playing. However, it comes back to the same thing I've said before: if they're getting their work done, it shouldn't be an issue if they're occasionally taking a little break. It's when they're abusing the system, and not getting their work done that it becomes a problem. Personally, I'd prefer not to play video games during work, because video games tend to require my full attention. I've found that when I take other breaks my brain keeps working on certain problems - and sometimes comes up with the answer during those "productivity breaks". If I were playing a game (depending on the game), I'm not sure I'd be able to really be doing that kind of thinking.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2003 @ 10:48pm

    Analog world

    In the old days, how mad would you be if you went to the break room and saw someone reading the newspaper on company time? Probably not too much, as long as the work gets done. Now, if one or 2 people were playing a board game in there, I would bet you would be upset, because some activities just aren't appropriate for the workplace. And screwing around with video games is one of them, in my book.

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  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2004 @ 2:16pm

    No Subject Given

    yes maybe I would be a bit angry but only if it were a bussy day and stuff what absolutly needed. But studies show that for people in the computer science business are far more engaged with programming when they take breaks and play tetris. It helps them find errors that they have mad and keep you business people programs from crashing

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  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2004 @ 7:22am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Grrrr, I think the previous commentor should have played a game before he started typing. Perhaps he may have made a comment that flowed in a coherent manner, was spelled correctly, and made some damn sense! I won't let that be the last comment in defense of game play at work. In the office environment I believe it is a necessity for the preservation of sanity. Sitting all day looking at paperwork and a computer screen is painfully boring and it is easy to burnout. Having a diversion for the mind is necessary. Most people achieve this diversion by getting up and walking around chatting with friends. I find it far more irritating when someone meanders around the office talking about their new shoes and the weather. I think it is much better to take a temporary detour on our computers. It certainly isn't harmful as long as the work is getting done. Plus, it makes you feel better about what you are doing. It is like getting a cup of water while running a marathon. If you hadn't gotten the water you would run slower and slower until you were burnt out and quit. With the water you have a boost of energy and continue to the finish line. Let's all play games at work (or type long commentaries to articles)!

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  4. identicon
    Richard, 23 Nov 2004 @ 7:23pm

    Please talk about how strategy games are even bett

    Strategy games like Warcraft III and Starcraft are even better for you ( gives you fast refleces, better sight , gain knoledge over the game, makes you think mathematicly and logicly , ect ) but the media and you guys keep talking about First player shooter games or other games like that which dont promote logical thinking..

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  5. identicon
    Pubert Phillip Peabody, 22 Mar 2005 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Please talk about how strategy games are even

    I am not sure about stradegy games, but I like puzzle games and yes I think they promote thinking and problem solving. I find myself thinking more about my job when I play these games. I think of faster and easier ways to approach things and also how I can benifit my life. To me life is a puzzle; which includes my work and my play time. It all fits together a certain way and without an equal ballance, well, there wouldn't be a point to enjoying it. I am not a workaholic although my 1st job pays for my 2nd job (remodeling my 2nd home); I am a drafter/Carpenter. I ussually work my 1st 4 hours and then play games periodically through my last 4 hours. Adiicted? some, but this gives me excitement to come back tomorrow.

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  6. identicon
    Ken, 30 Nov 2005 @ 3:40pm

    No Subject Given

    I used to have a job in a call center for an INsurance Company. Mondays were complete hell and chaos, but come Friday the phones rarely rang. With a job that doesn't require paper work and depends mostly on the calls that come in, what am I suppossed to do with the time when my job isn't providing me with work to do? I guess this question goes the same for ANY profession that experiences down time.

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  7. identicon
    Jantzen, 6 Dec 2005 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Please talk about how strategy games are even

    I would like to concur that strat games, like WoW, starcraft and the rest are very good for you, avid WoWer myself, but FPS can be very much the same way, Counter-Strike for instance, makes you have to look at problems logically, and setup plans on the spur of the moment, then adapt for changes as they come, it also promotes teamwork and problem solving. Just giving credit every where credit is due =)

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  8. identicon
    Noe Lopes, 29 Dec 2005 @ 8:07am

    Re: Analog world

    My belief has always been, and will always be that people should concern themselves with what they are doing. Why does it bother you what a coworker is doing? Of course, that's assuming the work is getting done. At work, my main function is to edit and format any outgoing correspondence. Some days, like today (12-29), are incredibly slow because of the simple fact that many people are not here today. Without other people writing reports and letters, I have nothing to do. Now, is it better to be absudly bored, stare blankly at my empty in box, and get tired? Or, is it more productive to engage is something entertaining that will keep my brain active until some work (hopefully) arrives? Also, how does that person playing a game impact you? The only way it does is when you get frustrated at the perceived lack of effort. Then maybe you get angry that you're working, it distracts you from your work, lowers your productivity, and fuels any negative feelings towards that person. Now that is being unproductive at work. Concern yourself with only yourself and you'll be a lot happier.

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  9. identicon
    Noe Lopes, 29 Dec 2005 @ 8:12am

    Re: No Subject Given

    I agree completely. Rather than quietly playing a game, they choose to converse with someone else, thereby effecting that person's productivity, and being a distraction to anyone who may be trying to work within ear-shot. I should say it doesn't bother me, but probably because I've grown accustomed to working while hearing other people talk. You have no choice in the land of cubicles. Breaks are a neccessity, no doubt about it. What people do with those breaks should be largely up to them. Surfing for porn on the company computers is something that I could say is inappropriate. Games? Give me a break, there are games that challenge people more than the work they get paid to do, and increase their mental capacity rather than drain it.

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  10. identicon
    Noe Lopes, 29 Dec 2005 @ 8:17am

    Re: No Subject Given

    The frustration sets in when they tell you to, "Just wait for the next call." They expect you to sit there, doing nothing until a call comes in. This is ridiculous and unfounded. All that does is drive people out of the workplace. I wonder why companies like call centers have such a high turnover rate?

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  11. identicon
    Dark Helmet, 24 Feb 2006 @ 6:56am

    Games at the workplace

    I work in a callcenter and the only thing we get yelled at is for "No Flash Games!" that is changed recently to no games. Some of the websites like MySpace.com have been blocked but we have worked around that. I feel that there shouldn't be games at the workplace like video games because like most people, I would have a hard time to stop playing them. Am i the only one that is like this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2006 @ 6:04am

    Are we forgetting what we get paid for???

    I have read all of your posts and am just wondering... in your offer letter from the company, or during the interview, did any one say or was it written that part of your salary would go back to the company to support the need for additional firewalls, IT support staff (to fix your machine when you get hit with a load of spyware or a virus) or just because you were taking more than the aloted 2x15 min breaks per day?
    I do not think so. I am in virginia, and the state law says that the employer only has to give you a 1/2 hour lunch, there is no requirment for 2x15 minute breaks in this state, yet people complain that they only get 2 15 min breaks a day.. they are getting paid to do nothing for 30 minutes a day.. lets do some math:

    The average System Admin in my area makes $46k a year. That comes out to $22.11 an hour, for this exercise we will say it is an even $22.

    are you willing, say when it is time to do taxes to reimburse your company for 120 hours that you spent playing games, surfing the internet, reading this article... etc. This comes out to the company paying you an average of $2640 a year for you to partake in these activities.

    That is probably more than most of you will get in a tax return.

    Seeing how I have been on both sides of the fence, I worked in a call center for 3 years, then was a manager and now I am a network administrator, I can honestly say, that there is no need to play games at work. Instead why arent you studing for your next certification exam, I know there is a least one exam out there in the IT world that you do not have. Better yet, way not be an adult about it, and go ask your manager if there is anything that he/she needs help with?

    Anyways I am done now. I think I have made my point.


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  13. identicon
    Thomas, 7 Feb 2007 @ 6:17pm

    Do something Constructive!

    Yes, I used to waste time at work, playing games, checking out ebay etc. But like Chuck (above) I decided that there was probably something better for me to be doing. Instead of asking your manager for something to do, try using your head and do something constructive to benefit the company in some way. Getting into this habit will eventually get you noticed. You will stand out, and probably get promoted. Good Luck...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    ravi, 29 Mar 2008 @ 9:29pm


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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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