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Does Gaming Reduce Productivity? 349

Posted by simoniker
from the mandated-metal-slug-break dept.
Scott Taulbee writes "Bob Mandel of AVault has given us his interesting views on why playing games does not reduce productivity, but rather is a stimulating alternative to 'snoozing, daydreaming, overconsuming food and beverages, or sitting like a mindless slug waiting for time to pass.' He suggest that '..compared to other forms of recreational activity that could be enjoyed during work breaks, computer gaming has the greatest chance to hone skills useful for productivity in the workplace.' Should we all take this article to our bosses with requests for installing a GameCube on every desk?"
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Does Gaming Reduce Productivity?

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  • Something to do. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sporty (27564) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:20PM (#5994221) Homepage
    Only when you have something to do
  • Well, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Steveftoth (78419) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:21PM (#5994230) Homepage
    my employer won't even let me read the article because it's a potential waste of time to go to 'those' websites. So I would say that the time would be much better used on work! I don't but my co-workers do spent a good amount of time playing minesweeper though.
  • Go for it. (Score:2, Funny)

    by sahala (105682) *
    Be proactive [google.com].

    Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

  • I'd love to have a 'brain slug' like those in Futurama, that I would put on my head whenever I am waiting for time to pass!
  • by bathmatt (638217) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:22PM (#5994241)
    People that will waste time with games when they could/should be doing something else will waste time doing something else (posting on slashdot). I don't see having an outlet like a game changing that.
    • But watching TV and reading slashdot will turn you into a brain dead zombie, while playing games will stimulate... something or other.
    • Actually I have found it helpful to play while working. I play those usual office games that everyone knows, such as minesweeper and bejeweled. They usually let me move my focus out of the problem at hand, thus usually solving it much faster than actually staring at a screen full of code.

      Usually when I play those games, my mind tends to go blank and wander around. When someone comes to talk to me, I usually get distracted and must start all over again. Reading slashdot is only a waste of time as it usually
  • or.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gspira (654441) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:22PM (#5994242)
    but rather is a stimulating alternative to 'snoozing, daydreaming, overconsuming food and beverages, or sitting like a mindless slug waiting for time to pass.'

    Or perhaps, say, actually working?

  • Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#5994245) Homepage Journal
    Does gaming reduce productivity? Hell yes it does. I remember those Marathon (bungie) matches before exams as an undergrad. I remember what Deus Ex did to my productivity as a graduate student as well. Come on, be honest here. My most productive hours are usually in the evening and if I am playing games at those hours, I am not writing my dissertation or grants or papers.

    • Re:Bah! (Score:4, Funny)

      by BWJones (18351) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:26PM (#5994275) Homepage Journal
      I should have added that Slashdot also reduces productivity significantly, but at least then hopefully you are thoughtfully responding to posts. :-)

    • by einhverfr (238914) <{chris.travers} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:38PM (#5994364) Homepage Journal
      I have been in environments where a break room had a TV and a gaming console. The idea of playing Halo, or other games either single-player or competitively during one's breaks was a good one. It helped relieve stress, helped to build friendships during those 1 on 1 games, etc. I think that it might be a distraction to put a game cube on every desk but one for the department may make sense.
      • by cruppel (603595) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:51PM (#5994470) Homepage
        I agree that it does sometimes spark companionship between people that otherwise might have not met. I met a couple people at work through this very manner and I must say it was easier than your usual talk of weather or perhaps a semi-uncomfortable lunch where very little is exchanged until you warm up to someone.

      • No chance this sort of thing happens on a big scale in the white collar sweat shop that is US IT right now. During the dot com boom, employers were into the whole Ping-Pong-for-morale idea, but now they've got us by the short hairs.

        But it makes total sense to officially sanction something in a "public" break area or whatever that you think might be a problem for people sitting in their individual veal stall/cube. If it's going to happen, get your spin on how it happens. Use it to make people like their jo

  • by gughunter (188183) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:24PM (#5994256) Homepage
    "True, some offerings are more draining than others, as, for example, some intense action titles leave me limp."
  • Access to this web page is restricted at this time.

    Reason:
    The Websense category "Games" is filtered.

    URL:
    http://www.avault.com/articles/getarticle.asp?name =reducprod

    • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:18PM (#5994664) Homepage Journal
      I cannot stand places that require
      8-12 at desk
      1-5 at desk

      Why doesn't management understand different people work in different ways? My best friend will come in late but he gets shitloads done after lunch. Before lunch he does next to nothing (tries to wake up). Me I'm a morning person I get more done before 9am than most people do all day. However at my last job, leaving early meant you weren't a team player (nevermind I got there 2 hours before everyone else, where were the fucking team players then?).

      This is why my current job is my last. They are pretty flexible (my boss respects me, and I can come and go as I please).

      Once my company hits the revenue I feel comfortable with I'm going out on my own. I'd rather make 24K/year and be my own boss than make 100k/year and have to put up with bullshit everyday. There is something to be said for Quality of Life.

      My future co-workers will be able to set their own schedules (with the exception of support). I'm not going to be the boss, I'm going to be a co-worker (that can fire people). As long as my teams are achieving their goals persuant to the companies goals I don't care if they work 20 hours a week. Just get the shit done and go live your life. I am also going to require 16 hours of community service a month (2 paid days off to do something the co-workers care about). There was nothing worse at my first job than them riding your ass about not doing shit in the community but turning around and making you work 80+ hours a week and work on weekends. I have no problem with hard work. I just hate hypocrites (which I strive not to be one).

      Fortunately I will be job free in about 6 months if everything works out. And I'll be job free in 6 months if everything doesn't work out. I guess I'm crazy quiting a job that makes over 60k/year in oklahoma, but oh well....
      • I'd rather make 24K/year and be my own boss than make 100k/year and have to put up with bullshit everyday.

        You certainly don't have kids or care to have any. 24k/year would never be enough if you care for them.

        There is something to be said for Quality of Life.

        That is true.

        My future co-workers will be able to set their own schedules (with the exception of support).

        If you're looking for a bunch of geeks that walk and code around, that's fine. If you're looking for a team, there should be some common
        • I'd rather make 24K/year and be my own boss than make 100k/year and have to put up with bullshit everyday.

          You certainly don't have kids or care to haveany. 24k/year would never be enough if you care for them.

          Not yet, however I own all my cars, I own my house outright and my bills in Oklahoma (very inexpensive to live here) are around $800/mo. I'd be willing to bet I could make it work with kids.

          BTW my mother made 11K/year in the late 80's early 90's in KC, MO and we survived just fine, poor as shit but
      • by Zebbers (134389) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:47PM (#5995162)
        ummm..encourage community service, support it, give incentives. but do NOT require it. In schools or in workplaces. It defeats the fundamental concept at it's very core. If you create an environment where cs is easy and well respected, people will participate. But DO NOT require it. Thats not their job, however ambivalent and idealistic you may be.
        • I only want people who give a shit about the world around them. If anyone who ever wants to work for me cannot find one thing to contribute to society, then they are worthless to me already.

          This is a good weed out question on interviews as well.

          I am not religious, however a few of the people I've started the company with are. I give them the ability to do activities with their church (as long as they affect people outside their congregation) and I respect their beliefs.

          Requirement stays until I get a goo
      • I've worked for more than one place that initially promised me they "weren't picky about keeping strict hours, as long as you got the work done" -- and each time, reality was a little bit different.

        What happens is this: Your co-workers (and superiors) observe you coming in late or leaving early, or heading out for lunch at a non-typical hour, and they automatically assume the worst.

        Actually, to be more specific about it - your co-workers actually *in* your department, working along-side you, probably *do
  • Bah, I demand an entire arcade installed next to the NOC!
    • Bah, I demand an entire arcade installed next to the NOC!

      We got a foosball table in our NOC after securing a large client account when I worked at a data center company.

      Geeks make great foosball players!
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:25PM (#5994270) Homepage Journal
    " Should we all take this article to our bosses with requests for installing a GameCube on every desk?"

    Interesting that you should mention that. I'm a free-lance artist working in 3D. I recently discovered that when I play graphically interesing games on my GameCube (Star Fox Adventures, for example...) I get inspired with a new energy to work in Lightwave. I think I'm in an unusual scenario, though...

    Gaming during work hours is a double-edged sword. It can be used effectively, it can be abused. At my full-time job, I'd occasionally fire up a game of Starcraft and spend about 45 mins or so (part of it during lunch break) playing it. But then when it came time to go home, I was comfortable leaving later. Instead of leaving because it was time to leave, I was leaving because I'd finished what I was working on. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not, but when you have to put off getting off, you look for whatever rational reason you can think of to leave work.

    So yeah, I'd say there's some truth to it. If I could take say an hour during my day to pursue an interest of mine, I'd be less restless.
  • Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ePhil_One (634771) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:26PM (#5994272) Journal
    He suggest that '..compared to other forms of recreational activity that could be enjoyed during work breaks, computer gaming has the greatest chance to hone skills useful for productivity in the workplace.'

    Exactly what useful skills am I honing? Mouse skills? Spatial relations? Ye olde Hand-I co-ordination

    If anything, it increases my odds of going blind, getting carpal tunnel syndrome, and losing social skills, (Thou it might help my 733t h4x0rz r4p).

    • by borkus (179118)
      Actually, most people who game with a keyboard and mouse are better at using a computer in general. I have a friend where I work who does a lot of customer service work, using the mouse and keyboard simultaneously to work in multiple apps. None of the other people on his team are even half as fast as he is.

      So how did he learn to use the mouse and keyboard simultaneously? By playing Quake, Warcraft, and Castle Wolfenstein to name a few.
  • by sneakybilly (537969) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:26PM (#5994274)
    I disagree with him, between couterstrike and neverwinter nights I haven't any time to contribute to open source projects. Daaaaammmmnnnn you Transgaming and Bioware.
  • by artemis67 (93453) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:26PM (#5994276)
    Where I work, we spend most of the day running down ramps, jumping off springboards and collecting gold rings. I guess that's why I never got into Sonic the Hedgehog... it always felt to me like I was back at work. Ah well...
  • by Moonshadow (84117) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:27PM (#5994279) Homepage
    I'll let you know right after I beat this level.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:28PM (#5994288) Homepage
    Instead of installing a gamecube on your desk, your boss will probably install a small rectangular pink piece of paper on your desk instead.
  • by brkello (642429)
    But there is always someone who will ruin it by playing games all day instead of working. Then policy will be passed to ban all games from work computers.
    • Maybe they could do like that 80's era cliche Japanese corporation with the workers doing their daily calisthenic and corporate anthem singing session. Every two hours everyone's computer would open the gaming window for fifteen minutes.
  • Is it any wonder jobs by the thousands are going over to India and the Phillipines? With Western programmers thinking they can play games on the company's clock and attempt to justify it as 'productive', I'm not at all surprised to see big multinationals outsource another 15% of their workforce to a far more motivated populace who won't be sidelined by such ridiculous distractions as games.
    • by benzapp (464105) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:53PM (#5994491)
      I know it. Imagine if we farmed out our development projects to the Chinese prison system. There, they only eat, sleep and write software. Every bug discovered by your manager results in a 100 volt zap to your left nut.

      The problem with western people is they don't understand they are alive to serve their manager, nothing more. Eastern people however... they have a long and elustrious tradition of efficiency. India still has their wonderful caste system, the perfect social system for labor. China just prefers to use "prisoners" for the real dirty work.

      The Americans better realize that you cannot be both free and be productive. If you have to work, you better shut the fuck up and do your job at all times you are conscious and not eating, sleeping, defecating, fucking...
      • Fucking is only allowed if done with the goal of producing more workers to prolong our glorious capitalism. John Ashcroft said so.
      • The Americans better realize that you cannot be both free and be productive.

        I couldn't disagree more. I think the best employees are those who love what they do, and would continue doing that as a hobby even if they weren't being paid to do that. It's been discussed here and elsewhere before: success comes not from following the latest business fad, but simply from doing what you love.

        It's amazing how many people keep dividing their lives between work as something they don't like but they are forced to

    • by Zirnike (640152)
      "Is it any wonder jobs by the thousands are going over to India and the Phillipines? With Western programmers thinking they can play games on the company's clock and attempt to justify it as 'productive'"

      The problem with that is that you've completely reversed cause and effect. People aren't motivated, because the company sees people as 'Human Resources'. I was told in my second performance review 'Most people here work more than 40 hours a week. If you want to do well, you have to work over 50.' I im

  • slashdot reduces productivity, not games. would be interesting to see how many hours total are wasted on slashdot per day..

    anyway, back to tuxracer
  • by Telastyn (206146) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:29PM (#5994301)
    but there's quite a bit of computer skills that are gained from being around gaming:

    I got a bit of knowledge early own by devising novel ways to get the game onto locked down machines, or how to get it to work without copy protection, or how to hide it from the admin's game purging cronjob or...
  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@gmai l . com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:29PM (#5994303) Journal
    Unlike TV and eating, gaming is an interactive form of entertainment. Playing an RTS or strategy game would probably increase your ability to reason. Try saying that about watching an episode of "Cheers" for the eighth time. Seriously, if you look at the people who grew up on Nintendo vs the children who grew up glued to bad sitcom reruns, you notice a difference in intellectual quality.
  • Next up ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hayzeus (596826) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:30PM (#5994304) Homepage
    Surfing Porn Found to Radically Improve Worker Productivity

    Study Concludes Employers Should Provide Open Broadband Access and Kleenex.

    • And Higher Cubicle Walls.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Higher cubicle walls just inspire competition as to who can get the spurt over them. It is a contest which requires practice, dexterity and superb timing, a combination most wankers cannot attain.
  • by telstar (236404) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:31PM (#5994312)
    "Should we all take this article to our bosses with requests for installing a GameCube on every desk?"
    • Why do you think they invented the Gameboy Advance and bathroom stalls have doors?

  • by Obiwan Kenobi (32807) * <evan@misterorang ... minus physicist> on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:31PM (#5994315) Homepage
    Does anyone actually play FPS's and RPG's in the workplace? These games which require such focus, skill, concentration, and time?

    I know I'll sneak in a game of Tetris, I'll throw in a game of Samurai [klear.com], but as for a Quake or a Command and Conquer, it has to be while The Boss is Gone and I Know He's Not Coming back.

    I wouldn't say it hurts on productivity, because people are going to goof off whether its video games or porn or email (the latter there is a HUGE productivity waste, and all fellow sys admins know it).

    I don't necessarily see Half Life 2 or Doom 3 sucking the life out of any office/shop, but I certainly don't see myself with the time to play them. In my line of work, calls come in all day long, and I need my desktop applications available to do my job (VNC, et al).

    Plus, my dual LCD setup is a pain in the ass for gaming.

    Maybe the article has call centers in mind. Or programming houses. But in my business-type environment, there is simply no time for it.
  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:32PM (#5994327) Homepage
    Didn't they try something like this at all those dot com companies? Oh, look how well it worked for them.

    Let's face it, the only reason anyone does any work at work is because it's marginally less tedious than the alternative activities that you can engage in until 5pm. Excluding the ones in the stationary cuboard with your secretary of course.
    • the only reason anyone does any work at work is because it's marginally less tedious than the alternative activities that you can engage in until 5pm

      That, and deadlines...You stop missing deadlines, whether you're playing games or diligently working 9-5, and you wouldn't have that tedious job to go to.

      Truth is, if you're playing games, but turning in excellent work to your boss on time, he won't care. If you're not wasting your time at all, but you're still not being productive, you're not going to hol

  • by Bonker (243350) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:32PM (#5994329)
    Reality:

    You code in the shower in the morning and transcribe your ideas into your IDE. You take long breaks at work to figure out problems. You think best when your hands are occupied or when some other minor task is distracting you slightly. You frequently work late or at home because thats when your mind is working. You are paid based on an avarge number of the lines of code you write per time measured. Big, time-consuming projects are intersperesed with smaller, less intenstive projects.

    Your Boss's Fansty World:

    From 8:00AM to 5:00PM your mind belongs to the company. You are able to transform business ideas into code every minute of that time and can do so without fail, regardless of the problem being presented. You are interchangable with other programmers and need not understand the whole project you're working on at any given time. You are capable of producing bug-free code on the first revision given normal working conditions. Application code is a commodity and is of the same quality, regardless who wrote it. You frequently work late because you are a salary employee and can be demanded to make more application code per work-day. You are paid per workday rather than code per average unit time.

    The result: You sneak goofing off when you're able and end up working more 'off the clock' hours.
    • I did some contracts as an undergrad that were very difficult - the professsor that offered them to us probably had no business doing so. We got things running, however the marathon 2 week coding binge was absolutely insane. If you play games for 30 minutes or so, your brain wakes up and you can be productive for another couple hours - then play games for another 30 minutes. This can't go on indefinately, but helps a lot.

      I suspect it's because it gets other areas of your brain working and eliminates eyestr
  • It's gaming when you should be working that hurts productivity. Of course, if you weren't being particularly productive before you started gaming, it might not make much difference.

    -Restil
  • I personally found that the game playing helped the day along and provided a good break to long coding sessions (though I vastly prefered my former employers multiple foosball tables), especially when being blocked on waiting for another resource/bit of code/database stuff to be wrapped up by a teammate.

    Unfortunately, management didn't see it that way and put a big kabosh on the whole thing. So now I just troll slashdot instead!

    We're a gaming company (gambling) too, you'd think they'd be more forgiving..
  • I think there is a lot guilt associated with work time and productivity. Let's face it, you can goof of all you like so long as you at least 'look' like you are doing work. Part of this is the, "we are all in it together attitude". It kind of sucks if you have a deadline to meet and everyone around is having a good old fashioned frag fest.

    Likewise, the last thing most bosses want is to be seen with an unproductive team. So even if you are just posting to Slashdot, it appears much more acceptable. Hell I g

  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:35PM (#5994350) Homepage Journal
    This is akin to saying that if workers take cocaine to pep them up during the day, it's just like a cup of coffee. This is just asking to be abused. Sure, when was the last time you *only* played 30 minutes of Everquest. Gamecube at my desk? Well, gee, I guess five more minutes of Zelda wouldn't hurt. Ignore that I said that twice already.

    That's not even touching the problem of support. Now I've got to open holes in the firewall so the good strong employee can play Star Wars Galaxies. Oops, looks like Doom 3 just hosed up the graphic drivers on everyone's laptop again. If having Solitaire and Minesweeper on every computer weren't bad enough...

    • If having Solitaire and Minesweeper on every computer weren't bad enough...

      My company removes those games (completely, not just the shortcuts). Mostly I just slack off by reading stuff on the Internet (www) myself. I don't even surf much at home anymore - today being an exception as it is a holiday.
  • by MsWillow (17812) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:37PM (#5994357) Homepage Journal
    Many moons ago, when I was still able to work, every morning at work I'd run through a game of Freecell, while the others were staggering blindly about groping for coffee. For me, Freecell was like doing mental gymnastics, a great way to warm up my mind and get it ready for the day's onslaught of subtle bugs that were my duty to track down and eliminate.

    However, my PHB saw it as "just" playing games (despite my winning streak of nearly 20 games), and I was told to stop it. My productivity dropped, though it was still better than the rest of the group.

    Nothing I could say would change his mind. His decree was final. :(

    The company was bought out by a smaller competitor, in large part because it was not able to turn out a bug-free product on time and under budget. However, they *were* able to ensure that their best debugger was not "wasting" ten minutes a day playing games.
  • Lucky... (Score:4, Informative)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:38PM (#5994363)
    We have foosball, one of those bar-room basketball games, and a pool table. While they are for clients we are allowed to use them when there are no clients wanting to play (which is usually). Of course you're not supposed to play all day, and if your supervisor happens to walk by when he knows you've got work, then you'll get in trouble.

    I just got done losing in a work sponsored pool tournament, and no, I don't work for some start-up internet company that's about to go under.

    In my specific department we were given a PS2 by a client for research into doing an advertisement for their game, and we still have it hooked up, and the guys bring in games from home for an occasional break.

    No games on company computers, though, and I believe the reasons are valid - we have clients that walk through our work areas and it just doesn't look professional when we are on their time, new equipment is technically only a tax write-off if you don't use them for anything else, and they don't want you to disturb others in your work areas.
  • first post! (Score:3, Funny)

    by carpe_noctem (457178) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:39PM (#5994373) Homepage Journal
    FP! Sorry, I would have gotten around to it sooner, but I got caught up in a wicked game of quake.
  • by hether (101201) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:40PM (#5994378)
    I think this says it all.

    There's huge variation in individual productivity both within and across jobs. Some people can put in very little tangible effort, yet end up producing a tremendous amount of quality output, while others work their tails off all day and produce very little. For this second group, computer gaming poses the greatest threat to continued productivity.

    My take on this is that since not every person who plays games can be as productive as the company expects, bosses choose to ban game playing for everyone. Little do they know that most people need to take breaks during the day so they don't get burned out. I don't think gameplaying automatically indicates you're not productive. On the contrary, if I have time to play games it's because my works all done.
  • Some companies know. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunilonline (609351) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:40PM (#5994381)
    Back when Informix wasn't part of IBM, their Portland building had a "lego station" on every one of their floors. This was a small enclave near the kitchen with a huge mindstorms kit and about 15 board games. Everytime you went in there, there would be this huge lego creation that was absolutely amazing!
  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:42PM (#5994397) Homepage Journal
    For those of you who actually RTFA, those who take breaks doing what they want to do during those breaks will be more prepared to tackle the chores in front of them back in "the real world." To which I agree. If I were able to play a little Civ3 here and there throughout the workday, I'd be a much happier camper than how it is now, where I go and BS with my coworkers (who, although I really like 'em, they're not as fun all the time as a non-emotional computer game).

    Of course the obvious ability to abuse such a system exists, but when it is encouraged as a stress reliever for little breaks here and there, rather than discouraged completely, it becomes a VERY USEFUL "tool" in the workplace. IMHO, anyways...
  • by actor_au (562694) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:42PM (#5994402) Homepage
    I asked my boss and he said that putting quake 3 on the cash registers didn't sound like a good idea to him.
    Luddite.
  • "Does Gaming Reduce Productivity?"

    I could answer this question, but first I have to play some Unreal Tournament ....
  • by jetkust (596906) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:44PM (#5994422)
    I'm still waiting for the "Sleeping Does Not Reduce Poductivity" and the "Avoiding Work At All Costs Does Not Reduce Productivity" articles to surface. Then we all will be free.
  • ..to be a blacksmith, but after crafting fucken 1000's of daggers in Ultima Online I gave it up.. ..to be a carpenter, but after crafting 1000's of fucken tables I gave it up... ...to be a programmer, but after... oh, nevermind

  • I used to play NetHack on a Psion handheld in my math classes. Does gaming reduce productivity? Well, just take a look at my math scores and draw your own conclusions... :)

  • by SeanAhern (25764) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:56PM (#5994510) Journal
    There's something rather amusing about reading a Slashdot article about gaming increasing productivity while sitting at my desk at work, avoiding writing some annoying error-checking code...
  • Without a doubt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YllabianBitPipe (647462) on Monday May 19, 2003 @05:59PM (#5994536)

    I would say without a doubt obsessive game playing reduces productivity. Every time I get hooked on some new game there's the terrible tendecy to jack in and play for oh, 24 hours straight, during that time, NOTHING gets done. I can't imagine how these people that get hooked on Everquest and TheSims manage to have lives, especially if they're working all day (yeah, I know someone will toss in the inevitable "they have no lives" comment).

    One of the saddest aspects of my college life was meeting these people who were involved in MUDS who literally spent all their time online, in their dorm rooms or holed up in the library sleeping on cots. They would LIVE online, have relationships with people online, and let's just say their "real world" lives suffered. And this was over text-only virtual worlds. I can't imagine what these people do today with realistic games. Probably a one way ticket to the insane asylum.

    Conversly, I think though, used in moderation, games can stimulate productivity. Especaially if you use it to blow off some steam, or get into game creation, hence improving your skills in the real world. But, anything in moderation can be good. I don't think most people have the tendency to get obsessed over games, and if it wasn't a game, it'd be alcohol, heroin or donuts.

    And lastly ... unless you're going into game programming I have yet to find any good reason for putting "Reached level 88 Amazon in Diablo II" on your resume. Gaming has little worth in the real world. I'd go so far as to say it has a negative stigma attached to it ... for anybody over 30.

    • "Reached level 88 Amazon in Diablo II" on your resume.

      If anything, it reveals you have a sense of humour. I may just do something like that if I ever find myself job hunting again, since I prefer to work for people with a sense of humour.
  • I think some people are missing the point. The author doesn't contend that computer gaming in itself increases productivity, but rather that gaming "has the greatest chance to hone skills useful for productivity in the workplace."

    This, however, also doesn't make sense. How often does your boss require you to run around the office killing demons? When have you been in a business meeting and missed the opportunity to be productive because you didn't know the correct way to man the gunner position on a Hal
  • Whatever works... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peterus7 (607982) on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:05PM (#5994577) Homepage Journal
    I have a friend who worked as a programmer for a packaging firm that every friday had lan parties.

    And it was good. Then it changed, and there was much grumbling.

    But having stuff like that, gaming fridays for a few hours, would probably really increase worker morale... Unless they're totally getting fragged all the time. Plus, if you designate a certain time for gaming, they will probably waste less time gaming when they're supposed to be working.

  • that this site is "news for nerds. stuff that matters."?

    if there is an ideology to geekdom, it is found in stories like this, not in "there is no spoon" matrix movies. ;-P

    this story, as read here, has the air of common sense all about it, amazingly enough.

    posted to absolutely any other news site, and this story would presented for news of the weird/ fark-esque laughter eliciting.

    c'mon guys, less blatant wish-fulfillment fantasies please! ;-)
  • Games are good for productivity if they help you to say relaxed. However, you need games that don't demand that you play them continuously, and that aren't too intellectually challenging. Playing System Shock at work is sure to keep you from doing any work, and playing StarCraft is going to distract you for long periods of time, but playing solitaire is a good way to stay alert while you don't have anything you can work on for a minute or two. Similarly, reading slashdot is good for productivity but reading
  • I'm still waiting for a FPWP.

    (That's First Person Word Processor to the lay-person).
  • I think that skills are enhanced by gaming, but only to a point. FPSs might be a problem, as an overstimulated employee would probably be too distracted to focus on a low-stimulation project. And besides, what do you do if someone quietly walks into your cubicle and surprises you--whip out a chaingun?

    FWIW, I didn't bother to read the article before posting--I didn't want to decrease my productivity any further!

  • I'll agree about overconsuming, being a slug, etc...

    But I imagine daydreaming is better than playing a game. Daydreaming is relaxing and creative and doesn't constrain you to a specific task. You might come up with some useful ideas and insights when daydreaming.
  • by vlad_petric (94134) on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:20PM (#5994683) Homepage
    Playing a game in an office has the same effect on geeks as opening a nude calendar. The harmful effects are not on the person playing the game, but on the coworkers.
  • Well, it can . . . (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gukin (14148) on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:25PM (#5994705)
    In a "don't go home" environment (a la Microsoft) where you are encouraged to spend every possible moment working and being productive gaming, free food, anything you might do at home is gladly provided at work; in the hopes you won't go home and you might be able to squeek out a few more lines of code. Places such as this want to make work a place where you will WANT to be (especially for more than 40 hours/week.)

    For the rest of us who "do the eight & hit the gate", our work is either not on such a tight timetable or is on a stable production environment where EVERYTHING is done carefully and deliberately to avoid downtime, gaming doesn't make sense.

    Don't get me wrong, I read slashdot and do NOT agree with the boss who says "The company is losing MILLIONS OF $$$$ while the slacker trenchers screw around with the internet."

    Work is for work, home is for home and lunch & after hours are for LAN parties (if IT & boss permits.)
  • Type memos or use spreadsheets to calculate interest rates just for fun? :)
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yppupcinataS'> on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:56PM (#5994874) Journal

    So, we'll all agree that you can't work 8 hours at a stretch, with zero interruptions. I can get close if deadlines are coming up, but the caffinated beverages get to me eventually, and I start freaking out (The Mouse is talking to me! The Mouse is talking to me!), not including the bathroom breaks.

    So, in a stress environment, I can see putting some sort of game system around to blow off steam every couple hours or so. Of course if you have a bunch of addicts around, you're going to go out of business...

    The thing is, people compare it to PRODUCTIVE time. So, no, compared to actualy PRODUCTIVE time, playing games is a time waster.

    On the other hand, compared to sitting mindlessly and passively in front of the TV, games achieve a level almost approaching productivity! So it depends on what you're doing.
  • by primus_sucks (565583) on Monday May 19, 2003 @06:59PM (#5994889)
    If you need to take a break at work I think that going for a walk or working out on your lunch hour would be a better break than playing games. Office people do enogh sitting.
  • stimulating the mind (Score:3, Informative)

    by LuxFX (220822) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:16PM (#5995002) Homepage Journal
    When I have to get up early for a long day of work, or if I hit my afternoon drearies, I always do one of the online crossword apps. I find that kind of puzzle-solving to be very stimulating and raises my level of alertness and clarity. For just a 10-15 minute commitment, I've improved my workflow for hours to come.

    Much better than sogging ever so slowly-but-surely toward that I-Need-a-Nap afternoon lull...

    .
  • by Frank of Earth (126705) <frank@@@fperkins...com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:31PM (#5995090) Homepage Journal
    .. a 27inch TV and a Xbox. We have a ton of games but we mainly just play Halo every day for 1/2 hour around 5pm. I'm not sure about increasing productivity or anything, but a few quick matches of Halo gets me more hyper than 3 cups of coffee.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:47PM (#5995164)
    The colors of this site definitly reduce my productivity. And make my vision go all blurry. And leave a faint headache behing the eyes.
  • by zakezuke (229119) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:05PM (#5995246)
    Ok, let me chime in here about the most popular games on the planet. Microsoft Solitare and Microsoft Mine sweeper.

    Typicaly management frowns down on these two games, and it's not unusual for the boss to ask for these to be removed. A careful reminder, before that choice is made is imporant. Both games are excelent for hand-eye co-ordination skills and serve to promote mouse instruction. You may think i'm nuts for saying this, but working with older people who didn't play video games who don't have much in the way of computer experence are not going to be the best at operating a mouse... so bad that often times I see the simple click motion translate into a forward motion, and they ask why the computer isn't doing what it should be doing.

    As far as me personaly, switching from a standard issue mouse to a trackball, I found quake II to be invaluable. This could apply just as easily to solitare.

    So would I say playing solitare on the lunch break improves productivity. I'd say, "YEP, SURE DOES". It teaches inexperenced users how to operate the mouse, it helps users to become familar with the particular choice the work place made on mice.

  • by Vegan Pagan (251984) <.deanas. .at. .earthlink.net.> on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:45PM (#5995468)
    Today's video games are too time consuming. Back when arcade games were popular, they'd be a nice break because they only take a few minutes to play and leave, but most of today's console games take over half an hour before you get somewhere satisfying in them. They often space the opportunity to save far apart so if you spend less than half an hour you lose your progress. Simply having to save your progress is a nuisance, because you have to remember where you are after you stop, which means the game stays on your mind after you return to work. Arcade games always let extra players join in at any time, but today's console games force you to restart if you want to change the number of people playing. Startup screens alone now take over a minute. Some Gameboy Advance games are pretty brief, but it's low tech, uncomfortable and only supports one player per unit.

    The sad fact is, today's console and PC games are designed to take over your life, which is just what the boss won't allow on the job.
  • something to add (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heby (256691) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @12:28AM (#5996573) Homepage
    snoozing, daydreaming, overconsuming food and beverages, or sitting like a mindless slug waiting for time to pass.

    add reading slashdot [slashdot.org] to that list - that's certainly my biggest waste of time while at work.

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