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Boss By Day, Gamer By Night 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-excel-at-bejeweled dept.
Ant writes "Computerworld queried seven executives at some of today's top tech firms to learn how they started gaming, what they play now, and how their virtual skills translate to the real world of the office. Alan Cohen, vice president of enterprise solutions at Cisco Systems, had this to say: 'Now, increasingly, games are Internet 2.0 encounters. They're all about how well you work together with others any time, any place, with players from around the world. Rock Band 2, World of Warcraft, even Guitar Hero promote the shared experience and are all about how together we can do more, be more, compete better than we can by going it alone. That's right in line with how the corporate environment is evolving: You can play (or work) anytime you want, and you have to compete and collaborate on a global basis in order to succeed.'"
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Boss By Day, Gamer By Night

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  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @01:24AM (#26219999)

    So this brings in that old question of play vs work. Do you keep them separate?

    What if your counter strike team smeared the bosses last night?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Renraku (518261)

      So what?

      They should have the maturity to deal with being owned. Any boss that can't handle it either needs to get out of gaming, or learn to play.

      • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @05:21AM (#26221117) Journal

        There are an infinite number of cliches surrounding communication, saying what you mean, etc. People don't say what they mean, people say what they must in order to show respect and position.

        For example, if you are a guest at somebody's house, it's polite to ask for what you need, rather than simply state the need. You wouldn't say "where's the bathroom" unless it's a rather close friend. Instead, you'll say something like "Do you mind if I use your restroom?".

        Which, if you think about it, is pretty silly. The question might be completed as: "... instead of crapping in my pants?"? but that's not what we say.

        Phrasing our need as a question establishes a sort of pecking order - we are acknowledging to the host(s) that it's his/her/their place, and that we are, for a time, subservient to their wishes. We know they don't want us to crap in our pants or on their carpet, and they most certainly don't want to offend us - they will basically *always* say yes, and then often make a point of making sure that our bathroom experience is pleasant by offering towels, etc. The host is indicating to the guest that the guest is welcome.

        It's a complex dance that those who are aware of (who are "polite") partake of in interacting with other people. It's how we, as social mammals, determine pecking order and expectations for code of conduct. Guys open doors for women, regardless of age or size, and let the ladies go first. Guys open the car passenger door for the lady, but the lady had better reach over and unlock the driver's side door... etc. etc.

        The question is: are video games are distinct? Is the agreement is that Video games are a different reality, having no bearing on this one? Are they are distinct from the workplace?

        If the agreement for this question is "no", and your boss is pissy because you fragged him, he does not deserve to be your boss. But there could easily be circumstances where showing up the boss could carry grave repercussions, just like beating him at golf. Here you are, a guest at the boss' house, and rather than ask to use the bathroom, you walk in like you own the place...

        Sorry to say it, but manners matter.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "If the agreement for this question is "no", and your boss is pissy because you fragged him, he does not deserve to be your boss. But there could easily be circumstances where showing up the boss could carry grave repercussions, just like beating him at golf. Here you are, a guest at the boss' house, and rather than ask to use the bathroom, you walk in like you own the place..."

          Except in cooperative games there's no location and no ownership. A social order based on merit, not a pecking order based on who's

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by h4rm0ny (722443)

            Except in cooperative games there's no location and no ownership. A social order based on merit, not a pecking order based on who's footing the paycheck.

            Which can precisely be the problem if the natural, merit-based pecking order is at odds with the imposed hierarchy. I've known enough managers that found themselves in the difficult position of being the natural second fiddle to some of those they were supposed to be managing. One of them handled it well in paying great attention to what they were told and

        • For example, if you are a guest at somebody's house, it's polite to ask for what you need, rather than simply state the need. You wouldn't say "where's the bathroom" unless it's a rather close friend. Instead, you'll say something like "Do you mind if I use your restroom?".

          Which, if you think about it, is pretty silly.

          Sorry to say it, but manners matter.

          Pretty deep!

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Hmm... I have to take issue with this:

          But there could easily be circumstances where showing up the boss could carry grave repercussions, just like beating him at golf.

          Golf, like WoW or Counterstrike, is a game, and as such is a friendly contest. If the boss thinks you're "showing him up" and gets antsy when you beat him at anything (golf, counterstrike, wow) then he's insecure about his position in your company. Now's the time to strike. :P

        • Completely agreed. And also of significance in real society is the distinction between causing the base to be "owned" versus beating him in the game. If you happen to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods, you would expect to be given a handicap or some general type of advantage to compensate you for the vast difference in skill. If he blows you out and wins by 40 strokes, that just makes him a jerk.

        • by feepness (543479)

          For example, if you are a guest at somebody's house, it's polite to ask for what you need, rather than simply state the need. You wouldn't say "where's the bathroom" unless it's a rather close friend. Instead, you'll say something like "Do you mind if I use your restroom?". Which, if you think about it, is pretty silly. The question might be completed as: "... instead of crapping in my pants?"? but that's not what we say.

          I disagree. We are really asking, if we don't know the person well, if their bathroom is functional and available. Their bathroom may be under remodel. Maybe be flooding. Their water might be shut off.

          In all of those cases I would hope that you don't shit yourself.

    • by Fallingcow (213461) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:47AM (#26220435) Homepage

      So play co-op campaigns in Left 4 Dead.

      He'll appreciate it when you knock that hunter off of him, and you'll keep your damn mouth shut when he fails to do the same.

      Just watch the friendly fire.

    • by tmk (712144)
      Why makes you think you could beat your bosses if they played your games?
    • I dunno, I used to beat my boss regularly at bowling, and that's saying something as I am an absolutely shitty bowler, never caused a problem.

    • Well, the first time I ever played Starcraft I schooled my boss at it. It was about an hour long game... he was gracious about it though. :)

      Then again now I work at a game dev company so it's a lot harder to do that. :P
  • That's right in line with how the corporate environment is evolving: You can play (or work) anytime you want, and you have to compete and collaborate on a global basis in order to succeed.

    Almost every job requires collaboration and "team player" is a resume keyword that HRM's always look for. Unfortunately the people most successful at "team work" are the least effective at work.

    Emphasis:

    You can play (or work) anytime you want

    In the "corporate" environment there doesn't appear to be much difference. It's just like school for most people.

    • by Psychotria (953670) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:10AM (#26220249)

      What? Playing Guitar Hero isn't productive? You've been smoking too many lollipops. A good air guitar session in the office always increases productivity. If you cannot play guitar with the team, then what good are you? Alan Cohen from Cisco is extra insightful.

      Quote:

      "Rock Band 2, World of Warcraft, even Guitar Hero promote the shared experience and are all about how together we can do more".

      This guy is a corporate Overlord. If he says we must play more games at work, well you'd better listen up and do just that! Crying and whinging that WoW and Rock Band 2 are too hard isn't going to get you anywhere. He doesn't mention any FPSs, but that's only because he dies all the time. Don't let that fool you though. Big, huge, gigantic multiplayer games is exactly what corportate networks are designed to handle.

    • by seebs (15766)

      What gives you the idea that people who are effective in working on a team aren't effective at getting their jobs done? The people I've seen who have been the best have consistently been great to collaborate or work with. They leave ego out of it, they focus on getting things done rather than arguing over credit, and they're quick to identify their strengths and weaknesses so that they can work most effectively.

      Yeah, I've seen people who liked collaboration but sucked at their jobs, or who were good at th

      • Notice that I put "team work" in quotation marks. I was really mocking the whole concept as an HRM catch-phrase. There appears to be some science and some pseudo-science to HRM and the hiring (and promotion) process. I will go on to say that I am merely offering my observations and not portraying a fully tested and valid critique.

        Fact is that everybody is a team player, by hook or by crook. Those who view themselves (or more importantly project themselves) as a "team player" are often just socialites, sycop

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1) Some challenges require multiple people
    2) Some tasks are easier to do alone
    3) You have to communicate in order to avoid failure
    4) Everyone knows who sucks the most
    5) You're doing it for the stickers!

  • by aredubya74 (266988) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:22AM (#26220307)

    As a bit of background, I'm a 100% telecommuter from my home on the East coast, with the vast majority of my company based in Silicon Valley. I don't get as much in the way of facetime with the team - in ~6 years working this way, I've met my boss (and the rest of the company) less than 5 times. We're friendly for sure, but the distance does occasionally make for strained work relationships.

    A year or so back, during a weekly internal conf call, I heard several of the higher-ups talking about their WoW PvP experiences. I had no idea they were gamers, and they apparently didn't know I was either. I decided to share that, and found they were entirely cool with my gameplay, even enthused. At the time, I was a regular in a casual raiding guild (semi-weekly raids, months behind uberguilds), so I was able to share some tips with the gang about stat builds, leveling strategies etc. I even went so far as to critique the gear of my boss's boss's level 70 pally, giving him tips on what to pick up to prep for tanking for their guild.

    Since then, we've all stopped WoW'ing regularly, but the experience and sharing was really worthwhile. It certainly wouldn't be appreciated at every company, but use your judgment, and perhaps discussing, even playing, with your coworkers is worth the risk.

    • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:31AM (#26220651)

      Yep, it's always great to talk to someone about shared interest. It's really nothing new in itself as a concept. The only thing "new" is that videogaming, for the first time, is part of the normal, adult lexicon, and so you see it emerging in the workplace now as a discussion topic, even among bosses.

      For multiplayer games (play from home at least), I'd have to say the Xbox 360 is king by a healthy margin. It's sort of the place to be to hang out and game with your friends and co-workers when not at the office. Left4Dead and Gears of War 2 seem to be the current multiplayer favorites. A few of us also enjoy N+ co-op every once in a while. But we've played lots of slower online board and card games as well. In addition to video games, a small group of folks gets together after work weekly for board gaming as well.

      I think it's a fantastic way to strengthen bonds with co-workers, and is applicable to nearly any business environment. Anyone under 40 is likely to have grown up gaming anyhow. It used to be a lame corporate retreat and "team-building" exercises. Why not have some genuine fun watching each others' back in a frantic game of Left4Dead instead? Makes sense to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        For multiplayer games (play from home at least), I'd have to say the Xbox 360 is king by a healthy margin. It's sort of the place to be to hang out and game with your friends and co-workers when not at the office. Left4Dead and Gears of War 2 seem to be the current multiplayer favorites. A few of us also enjoy N+ co-op every once in a while. But we've played lots of slower online board and card games as well. In addition to video games, a small group of folks gets together after work weekly for board gaming as well.

        Oh, this takes me back. I was 12, my dad was going on about how I needed to learn golf because it's the game men of business and substance played and discussed Important Things over.

        "No, dad. That's the way people in your generation did it. People in my generation may have to suck up to bosses with golf but by the time we've become men of business and substance, it'll be video games. Instead of trading golf tips it'll be about playing whatever version of Mario they're up to in 30 years."

        HA! I'm going to cal

        • Video games are hardly in line to replace golf as the recreation of the ruling class. Half the point of the golf course and country club is that they are expensive, difficult for the proles to get into, and only admit the right kind of people. It is also a physical location...try getting a massage after your round of CS.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you're basically right in your assertions -- it's worth the risk to reach out to a co-worker ne on a personal level and finding you have something in common with them.

      My personal experience with it has been that it's more of a distraction, unless it's centered on work related discussions. While you do have good 'bonding time' that builds trust and appreciation for disparate skill sets between team members ultimately when I sit down at work I want to get work done, not talk about ancillary things.

      The

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zer0that (1418047)
      Agreed, networking is always important at work. A friend of mine that works for a major chain plays games (Xbox360/WoW) with his co-workers and once bosses, now also co-workers. It is pretty much a constant at any company or business that getting in good with co-workers, appearing as a team player, and being able to get time with your boss away from work, formerly a bar/dinner experience, will help you get ahead in the end.
  • by n3tcat (664243) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:06AM (#26220515) Homepage
    at which point my brain switch flipped to the "off" position and the screen went fuzzy as drool started dripping from the side of my mouth.
    • by murdocj (543661)

      I got a little further but the stuff about working anytime with people around the globe just activated my gag reflex. My last company (which was amazingly poorly run) had the whole "we'll farm stuff out to the India team and work 24x7" mentality. And typically the way it worked was

      . Monday: you need to get some web service in India configured so you can test. So you shoot off an email.
      . Tuesday: you get back a message that the guy who knows anything has quit. You ask who replaced him.
      . Wednesday: you get

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:25AM (#26221429) Journal

    Yeah, this is an interesting one. I think the flow of skills between gaming and management is a two way thing, although only in fairly specific circumstances.

    I don't honestly think that just playing the average platformer, rhythm game, first person shooter or beat-em-up really adds much at all to your work-place skills, beyond a bit of hand-eye co-ordination. Even playing team-based online shooters doesn't necessarily help.

    However, once you move beyond simply playing the game and move more into the community side of things, you can start to pick up some seriously useful experience.

    When I was looking for "proper" work after finishing up my post-grad (as opposed to the summer jobs I'd had while a student), I ended up passing the initial intellectual aptitude tests and getting through to the assessment centre stage for one of the most competitive graduate recruitment schemes in the UK (over 15,000 applicants for around 400 places, in the year I applied). I was up against people who'd done internships in national newspapers, travelled the world doing interesting things, been president of umpteen student societies and so on. By contast, my own experience was a few summers of boring (but fairly well paid) tech support/web design and administrative work, a bit of political canvassing and way too much time "wasted" on gaming. "Ok", I thought, as I got myself ready, "I'm in trouble now".

    So, I cast around for other things I could talk about that I'd done. Pretty much the only really striking thing was that I was the (unpaid) head admin of a fairly large European-based Counter-Strike league. This was basically something I'd moved towards by degrees; from being a player in a team in the league who was perpetually frustrated by its organisational problems, to being a volunteer admin who refereed matches and mediated disputes to being the head admin, who recruited and managed the other admins, negotiated with sponsors for better server hardware and moved the league from a free-to-play to a subscription basis.

    So in the absence of other options, I decided to take a huge risk and focus on this experience at interviews, hoping and praying that I would get an interviewer who wouldn't just dismiss it as some computer-game silliness. My heart sank when I found that my interviewer was a 60-ish guy in a suit. However... the interview went stunningly well; he asked me about the differences between managing a paid team and a team of volunteers (particularly in terms of dealing with poor performers), the difficulties in getting "customers" used to having something for free to pay for a product, the challenges in negotiating with financial backers and so on. And I was able to answer all the questions fluently. He didn't have a clue about computer gaming and admitted as much, but the management and business sides of what I'd done were perfectly relevant. I passed the centre and still have the same employer 6 years later (having moved up a few pay bands in the interim).

    Of course, head admins of leagues are pretty few and far between and I think the old concept of the "unpaid volunteer head admin" has largely died out as fps gaming becomes more professionalised (a move which was already starting back then and which I've never been comfortable with). However, I think there are other aspects of gaming which can have a positive impact on your business skills - as well as some areas where a management post at work can have a beneficial impact on your gaming.

    MMOs almost inevitably present the best examples, particularly if you have a raiding guild (or the non-WoW equivalent). A middling-hardcore raiding guild (which is to say, a guild which takes raiding seriously, but whose members have jobs and some vestiges of social lives) is an organisation held together by varying degrees of cameraderie, traditions and naked self interest. Much like the average work-place, in other words. You have the ambitious newcomers who want to change everything. You have the burned out old-timers who think the guild owes the

  • I've been saying this for decades but nobody listens till some fancy Cisco exec says it.

  • by sunking2 (521698) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @10:49AM (#26223019)
    More proof that the way you get to the top is that you are able to take any random topic and mix it with your standard corporate buzz words to make you sound like you are a genius. I couldn't get past the summary. Corporate America is a joke if they are relying on their gaming skillz to get us out of this mess and move forward. Here's a clue, we didnt dominate during/post WW2 because we sat there all day talking about WoW. Now get off my lawn.
  • For a moment, I thought this was about the AI for the Lich King kicking back and playing some Neopets or something during server upgrades.
  • Now when I tell my employees I want to spawn kill any new competitors, they nod with understanding.
  • I'm the Director of IT at a small company and also a gamer, but I hardly consider any overlap between my pastime and my work.

    • by fractoid (1076465)
      Maybe you should.
      • by BoberFett (127537)

        No, this sounds more to me like someone trying to drum up support for an idea that they can turn into a motivational seminar. They can then sell tickets for hundreds of dollars to starry eyed managers who will sit for hours listening to cliches about "fragging the competition" and "awarding your employees DKP" for their hard work.

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