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How To Deploy a Game Console In the Office? 310

Posted by Soulskill
from the early-and-often dept.
SkydiverFL writes "Does anyone have an idea for a good solution for using a game console (Xbox 360, PS3, etc.) with a laptop and / or external monitor? I am planning to set up each of my developers at the office with a shiny new Xbox 360, surround headphones, and Gold memberships. The only catch is that I have to do it 'gracefully.' I would be grateful for any input on the technical setup and politics (how to get it in and how to work through the politics)." Read on for further details on the situation.
SkydiverFL continues, "Long story short, I am the MIS Manager / Lead Architect for a blue collar non-tech company. My team needs to be happy, but the folks in the rest of the office do not really understand what that means for the types of personalities that exist in our department. Even though my team is tucked away in a different part of the building, we do have clients and employees come back here from time to time. I cannot set a monitor on their desk. The console can be here, but it needs to be not so 'in your face.' Each developer currently has a maxed out Dell Latitude D830 laptop, docking station, and a wide screen 20" LCD. The LCD has a dual-input configuration — one for SVGA and one for DVI. The DVI port is in use by the laptop. It would be preferable not to feed the console directly into the monitor. We have employee monitoring software in use and need to track the usage of the console. So, it seems best to use a capture card along with some type of viewer utility. This would allow us to have a record of when and how long the console was used, in case anyone else in management ever has a problem.
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How To Deploy a Game Console In the Office?

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  • by 91degrees (207121) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @01:51PM (#25510467) Journal
    I'm unaware of a developer "Needing" a console at his desk in order to do his job, unless he happens to be a game developer on that console.

    Even then we don't need them. We use a dedicated devkit, which is functionally pretty similar but many of them won't play actual commercial releases of games.
  • by karnal (22275) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @02:12PM (#25510641)

    I was going to respond originally at the parent level, but I want to add to this post since it seems to make the most sense.

    1. Put limits in for breaks/after hours only use.
    2. Put the system in a place that other employees cannot get to.
    3. Do not advertise the area to anyone but whom should know about it.

    Those being said, a long long time ago I worked for a company that had a few tech people playing Age of Empires during lunch. In the beginning, they'd play after hours but over time it migrated into an hour+ long lunch time of having all of the on-site technicians playing. This caused a few problems I'll highlight:

    1. The game was being played using company resources (computers) and utilized the company network.
    2. There were instances where customers were turned away at lunch time because the employees claimed "break time."
    3. Management had some approval on this, but high level management had no clue it was happening.

    What I'm guessing happened is someone complained to the higher ups that they got turned away from support even though the techs were at their desks. You CANNOT show your customers that a game is more important than supporting the business.

    In my opinion - if there are clear lines of support hours, then outside those "core hours" you could probably pull this off. During business? Well, I'd have to think unless it's an all or nothing (allowing ANY employee to use the systems during a break) you'll have severe people issues. And there's no amount of technology that will help you overcome a jealous employee.

    Side note: Used to smoke. Building is smoke free, have to drive off the lot to smoke. Co-workers complain that the smokers get more break time because they take >15 minutes to get off property, chain smoke 2 and come back. Be all end all is that someone is always going to be pissed about something like this, and it's probably better off without even having the option to play games during business hours.

  • Re:Reason? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DeadPixels (1391907) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @02:21PM (#25510733)
    He also said that he wanted advice on the "politics" of getting the Xbox into the office, and it's kind of hard to justify the Xbox to management if you don't know what it's for.
  • Dual Input Monitors (Score:1, Informative)

    by Smith55js (1206108) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @03:04PM (#25511047)
    I use my Xbox 360 at home on my PC using my Dual Input Monitor. I have the Xbox 360 using the VGA input while the PC uses the DVI input. The Xbox 360 parental controls built into the console will allow you as an employer to set limits on when it can be used as well.
  • by gmccloskey (111803) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @03:16PM (#25511129)

    The detail you provide in your question is telling. You discuss mostly the technical aspects (laptop spec, ports, etc.). You barely describe the rationale, or address how it will be perceived, only claiming that other in the company don't understand. You fail to set out the business benefit, or how you will pitch it to your seniors. You fail to set out the personal benefit - apart from the fact you've given everyone a shiny console.

    So it's not clear why anyone would want it, or why anyone would approve it. it is clear that by failing to communicate to the rest of the company, people will arrive at their own conclusions, and they are likely to be ones that do not reflect well on you. This is not shaping up to be a McKinsey case study in how to execute an innovative reward scheme that will meet universal acclaim and cure cancer.

    Have you had a bunch of your team actually ask for this? I thought not.

    Go back to the basics. What are you trying to achieve? What are the potential solutions of meeting your goals. How much will it cost the company? What are the benefits for your team? What are the benefits for your company? What are the drawbacks for the team / company?

    And anyone who says "google does it!" doesn't understand that (a) google hires a very very particular type of personality and (b) google has a very particular corporate culture which is geared to using alternative reward schemes. If you want those things, go work for google, or another company with similar values.

  • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @03:38PM (#25511289)

    If I'm at my desk and on lunch, and someone comes to me, I tell them to shove off too.

    My lunch = my time.

  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @06:45PM (#25512675) Homepage

    If I find out that the office has on site showers, I run for the hills.

    If I find out that the office doesn't have showers, it means I will stink all day after cycling to work, so I look for a different job.

  • Follow-Up / Thanks (Score:3, Informative)

    by SkydiverFL (310021) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @09:34PM (#25513681) Homepage

    First of all, a huge thank you to everyone that took the time to reply. Whether they were positive or not, I do appreciate all of the input. I initially had hoped on receiving a few comments on how do do this TECHNICALLY (ie. using a capture card, maybe someone would mention a model number or two). The political items were secondary. However, I must say, I am very glad for the responses in that area. You may have just helped me dodge a bullet... fired from my own gun. ;-)

    Just a few words that might clarify my reasoning a bit...

    As for money, my plan was to use my own personal money for the consoles, headphones, and memberships. I have already installed individual Sirius radios at each desk, and pay a monthly membership for each, all out of my personal income. I also keep a fridge fully stocked with Dew, Vault, Coke, and whatever else anyone on the team enjoys. There is no way our company would be okay with me spending corporate dollars for this.

    As for a common area, I absolutely like the idea of installing a single unit, or maybe even two, in a common location. As someone pointed out, it really would lend to a more open environment. In fact, our team is kinda thought of as "elite" (as one employee recently told me) and having the common area may help break down some walls. Unfortunately, we do not have such an area available to use.

    My goal behind this type of initiative is to create an environment were solid technical people will enjoy working. It's quite difficult to attract a developer in our industry. Most are dreaming of the ivory tower and have heard the tales of the high-energy fun-loving start-up environments. Because of what we do, all of our offices are primarily large warehouses, with built out office space, located in rural areas of the state. Still, our company has a desire to develop new technologies and remain WAY ahead of the competition. That dictates a certain type of person... young, energetic, creative, productive... someone who actually ENJOYS developing and isn't just chasing a paycheck.

    One more item on that note... there are unique situations that develop in our line of work. Whether it's because of the "blue collar" environment or not is irrelevant. However, our guys overhear and are exposed to things that they normally would not be in a typical office environment. I guess another reason I do all of this is so that they realize that, even with the occasional nonsense, they've still got it pretty dang good.

    Overall, management has given us a lot of leeway to do what we want. Our guys are required to put in a MINIMUM of 50 hours per week and generally put in around 60-70. That is solely because we have produced so much in the two years that the team has existed (30 year old company with very new desire for the technology we have given them). Two years ago they had three clones as their servers in one office. Today, we have a new hardened datacenter, brand new infrastructure and hardware within all of our offices, and are developing technologies that nobody else in our industry has.

    All of this being said, I think the majority of you are correct. It's a bad idea.

    Correction...

    It's a good idea but not one that can be implemented in a good way. It really should be in a common area. Until one is available, it should wait. If we're gonna break down that elitist image, then this is not the way to do it. Whether our guys are productive or not is irrelevant. In short, if we don't have enough to share then we probably should wait until we do.

    Maybe we'll start off with a monthly FPS round-up in the conference room... setup and put on by our department. We could always hang onto the equipment and do it regularly... three or four projectors and consoles in our training room.

    Thanks, again.

  • by porcupine8 (816071) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:39PM (#25518639) Journal
    Well, of course you've got to coordinate with other people in order to collaborate. Do you think most scientists at universities work alone? Of course not, but they do set their own hours and decide for themselves what they'll be working on and when - within the needs of whatever projects they're currently working on. Which means that if they're done with their meetings for the day and they need to go pick up a kid from school, they can just go do it. Or if their brain is fried and they need a break, they just go take one. Maybe yesterday they ate lunch at their desk while working, but today they decide to take two hours to meet their spouse downtown for lunch. If they need to get a document to a collaborator in an hour, they can't do that, obviously. But once the document is sent, they can.

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley

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