Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

typodupeerror

## Google PAC-MAN Cost 4.8M Person-Hours332

The folks at Rescue-Time, who make software that helps you (and companies) figure out how you spend your online time, did a modest calculation based on their user base and concluded that Google's playable PAC-MAN doodle cost the world over 4.8 million person-hours of productivity last Friday. "Google PAC-MAN consumed 4,819,352 hours of time (beyond the 33.6M daily man hours of attention that Google Search gets in a given day). \$120,483,800 is the dollar tally, if the average Google user has a cost of \$25/hr. (note that cost is 1.3 – 2.0 X pay rate). For that same cost, you could hire all 19,835 Google employees, from Larry and Sergey down to their janitors, and get six weeks of their time." Also, Google made the doodle permanent.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

## Google PAC-MAN Cost 4.8M Person-Hours

• #### Yum, numbers are tasty (Score:5, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:19PM (#32330082) Journal
Well it seems I skewed the statistic quite a bit..
Now the real question is, how many more hours will it consume talking about how many hours it consumed?
Begs the question doesn't it?
• #### Re:Yum, numbers are tasty (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:40PM (#32330278)
These numbers are tasty, but they also are misleading and jump to conclusions. They're assuming everyone who tried GoogleMan was at work? I wasn't ... I guess I'm the only person who uses Google for non-work purposes? They really aught to try to break into the "home users who use search engine" market, who knows, they may be able to significantly expand their user base.

They're assuming 36 extra seconds per visit, too. If you "count to 11" like they suggest, counting to 47 will demonstrate that they're guestimating far too much time was spent on GoogleMan.
• #### Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

I was on vacation also, and all 4 family members tried it.

How many kids played this?

• #### Re:Yum, numbers are tasty (Score:5, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:32PM (#32330692)

That's irrelevant if you're a salaried worker. Instead of playing Google Pac-Man at home, you could have spent that extra time at work getting work done for your employer. Wasting your time playing a game like that is like stealing from your employer!

• #### Re: (Score:2)

also you would need to assume these people were really going to do something worthwhile had they not been playing google pac-man.
Thats a big assumption, multiplied by 4.8 million.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

how about the assumption of 25 bucks an hour for every user. I was not working when I played it, so there has to be some other dude getting paid 50 bucks an hour while playing to make up for that.
• #### Re: (Score:3, Informative)

Begs the question doesn't it?

No, it doesn't!
http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]

• #### Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

So, some people* essentially made up a load of numbers to generate a catchy headline, throwing in some "back of the envelope" calculations to make it look real. That's never happened before...

But, oh look, it worked. Even the BBC [bbc.co.uk] bought the story and they generally try to be factually accurate. So, before long it will probably be included as an amusing anecdote in every story about loss-of-productivity-at-work, or the dangers-of-being-on-the-Internet and that sort of rubbish.

It is amazing how far one made-u

• #### Competition (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:20PM (#32330084) Journal

Still pales in comparison to the average Slashdot Idle story...

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Yeah, I think most people would have been faffing off at work regardless of Pac-Man. Plenty of good Flash games!

• #### Hah! (Score:3, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:20PM (#32330090) Journal
... don't be evil, indeed...

Simon.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

I can't believe they're discriminating against ghosts like that. I mean, they were people, too!

• #### Slashdot manages that every day (Score:5, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:20PM (#32330096) Journal

You should be ashamed of yourselves for reading my post when you should be off curing cancer or saving orphans or something useful!

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Well, the fix for both is to kill them all. That's already been handled by the fine corporations around the world. It'll just take a little while for it to finish the job.

Come on, if one company can single handedly set up to kill all life in the Gulf of Mexico with a single event, what'll happen when more of them have "accidents"?

• #### Re:Slashdot manages that every day (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:02PM (#32330442) Journal

Unfortunately, the hyper inflated concept of the unflinching, tireless, resolute worker is best left as a relic of the industrial revolution. Never in the course of human history, outside of the industrial revolution, has a human being been expected to produce "something" for 8 straight hours a day, 5 days a week (and for some more than that). Such simple minded focus strips the mind of creativity; creativity which has dramatically advanced and improved the human condition.

I am a hard core capitalist and stalwart industrialist, but I am also a pragmatist. Non stop, widget production, should be left to the factory worker who needs to follow a standard script. Expecting an IT professional, a researcher, or an engineer to simply keep producing something measurable with each minute of the day shows a complete lack of understanding of your resources. I forget what the name of the study was, but it took three sports teams and show the level of performance improvements over a team that 1) vacationed for a week, thinking about the upcoming game, 2) team that unceasingly trained for the upcoming game, 3) team that sporadically trained for the upcoming game. turns out the vacationing team that spent some time visualizing the upcoming game, produced the greatest results, with the team that trained too hard had the smallest improvements.

Long story short, expecting factory worker performance from skilled workers, is as foolish as expecting a successful heart transplant surgery from a line backer.

• #### Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

Never in the course of human history, outside of the industrial revolution, has a human being been expected to produce "something" for 8 straight hours a day, 5 days a week (and for some more than that).

The human body just isn't built for it either. Hunter-gathers that were able to survive to the modern era (i.e. in infertile lands where agriculture isn't possible) only spent about 15 - 25 hours per week gathering food. That's what our ancestors did for probably 100,000 years, and a contributing factor to why life expectancy dropped with agriculture (~100 hours per week). Unsurprisingly, it turns out we're almost all deficient in Vitamin D (lack of sunlight), get sub-optimal sleep (ditto sunlight), and

• #### Re: (Score:2)

I was doing the responsible thing by reading your post to make sure you hadn't already found the cure for cancer or saved the orphans. I don't want to duplicate work, now that would be wasteful!

• #### Totally not evil (Score:2)

Sucking up \$120 million of employee time is _totally_ not doing evil! (Well i don't think so as an employee anyways, the employers may disagree.)
• #### In other words (Score:5, Interesting)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:21PM (#32330106)

People spent 4.8 million hours enjoying life rather than slaving away for the man :P

• #### Ah yes, Rescue Time... (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:22PM (#32330124) Homepage
...monetizing bad math and improperly understood statistics since 2006.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

A little bit of down time boosts productivity!

• #### Re:Ah yes, Rescue Time... (Score:4, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @10:04PM (#32331732)
That's true, you can't monetize person-hours unless you know the opportunity cost of that time. If those hours would have been spent watching TV, it's cost neutral (1 hour of leisure time either way.) Were executives and sales reps playing it work? That's a cost benefit. It saved the hours spent removing viruses and malware they would have downloaded surfing porn sites instead.
• #### hour of pac-man != hour of lost productivity (Score:5, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:23PM (#32330128)

This is like all those bogus RIAA/MPAA/etc.-funded studies that assume a pirated copy is a lost sale. Much of the time spent on Google's PAC-MAN would otherwise have been spent on other internet time-wasting, not on productivity.

• #### Re:hour of pac-man != hour of lost productivity (Score:5, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:00PM (#32330422)

This is like all those bogus RIAA/MPAA/etc.-funded studies that assume a pirated copy is a lost sale. Much of the time spent on Google's PAC-MAN would otherwise have been spent on other internet time-wasting, not on productivity.

Great. Now some *AA is busy working on a study to show how much Google PAC-MAN cost them in sales. Way to go (don't expect to get paid for the idea though).

• #### Re: (Score:2)

This is like all those bogus RIAA/MPAA/etc.-funded studies that assume a pirated copy is a lost sale. Much of the time spent on Google's PAC-MAN would otherwise have been spent on other internet time-wasting, not on productivity.

And you know that to be a fact... how exactly?

• #### Probably true. (Score:4, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:23PM (#32330130)
But who cares? Sometimes you just have to stop being so serious and laugh a little.
• #### If your company is concerned with this... (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:24PM (#32330142) Homepage

Ban the use of Google at work.

Because, I'm sure Google doesn't give back in terms of productivity.

But really. This is hard to quantify. Half of my dev team was looking under the hood to see how it worked. Directly lost productivity? Maybe, but I think over-all it netted positive for the team. I would argue that this sort of thing is good for productivity.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Because, I'm sure Google doesn't give back in terms of productivity.

I'm sure it does. Just think about everything that would need to be looked up without Google. Want to know the currency conversion between US and Canadian dollars for an estimate? Need to know Pound to Kilogram conversions? Etc.

Google lets you make much more accurate decisions without wasting time.

• #### Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:24PM (#32330150) Homepage

It was on a Friday, it's not like anything gets done on Fridays anyway.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

It was on a Friday, it's not like anything gets done on Fridays anyway.

You need to hang around my hospital's ER a little more on a Friday night. You will see that quite a lot gets done. I usually find myself wondering why people don't just stay home... there's never a rush during the football game.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Depends if you're wearing your optional Hawaiian shirt.

And Jeans.
• #### Humans are not engines (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:26PM (#32330164)
Humans are not engines. You can't just give us caffeine and sugar and expect us to work all that time. We require mental stimulation or else our work suffers.

What HR departments don't seem to understand is that we are not robots or programs. Put anyone and have them do a repetitive task, they will quickly get mental numbness and their productivity will suffer. Now take the person and give them some mental stimulation now and then and they won't make those errors.

If you want something that will turn out the same quality of work 24/7, get a robot or program. Humans aren't like that. And saying that it "cost" \$4.8 million just isn't understanding humanity.
• #### Re: (Score:2)

And saying that it "cost" \$4.8 million just isn't understanding humanity.

It says 4.8 million hours and \$120 million. Not that I think there can be any real validity to their guesstimate, but they could well be closer then 25x out.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

"... but they could well be closer then 25x out."

And apples could well be closer than 25x better than oranges ?

The criticism isnt on the result of the measurement, its on the premise underlying it.

If the 4.8 million hours where all time that employee and worked themselves to exhaustion (mental or physical), then 4.8 million hours weren't lost, the workers had already given 100%.

Some employers in the IT field at least say to take a 5min break every hour to relax and help keep them fresh, thats not a wasted 5

• #### Re: (Score:2)

You could have made this post 2/3rds shorter and gotten the same affect. That's just not productive enough, so we're sorry but we're going to have to let you go.
• #### Re:Humans are not engines (Score:4, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:41PM (#32330738)

Even worse, the HR departments are the biggest offenders at wasting time. Those people don't do anything productive all day. They just sit around talking to people, contracting for inane "training" courses about workplace harassment and other common-sense stuff, putting up roadblocks for hiring managers trying to find good employees, etc. Most companies would be better off if they eliminated HR departments altogether. W. Edwards Deming was a fan of this idea.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

And saying that it "cost" \$4.8 million just isn't understanding humanity.

and applying this to you, you have been reading /. too long and are also making errors.

• #### Re: (Score:3, Funny)

I thought we were. We reliably convert coffee and donuts into Powerpoint slides and meetings.
• #### Wasted? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:28PM (#32330180)
Time that isn't spent productively is not necessarily wasted.
• #### Re:Wasted? - RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

<`gro.suoirafinmo' `ta' `hsals-cire'> on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:52PM (#32330364) Homepage Journal

If you read the article, the person who wrote it preemptively replies to the assessment with exactly that observation, except even better since it's backed up by data.

• #### cost calculation? (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward

OK, so I'm just a really dumb C programmer, but I'm having a hard time parsing "cost is 1.3 – 2.0 X pay rate" and coming up with a value of \$25/hr for any value of "pay rate". And I've wasted more time on this than I did futzing with Google's PacMan...

• #### Re: (Score:2)

c=1.3-2.0*r
c-1.3=-2.0*r
(c-1.3)/-2.0=r
c=25
(25-1.3)/-2.0=r
-11.85=r

They pay \$11.85 per hour to work at google.

To be serious though, I suspect they meant "1.3-2.0" to be a range.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

(1.3*R)C(2.0*R), where C = O(25*h)
• #### Nonsense figure (Score:4, Interesting)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:31PM (#32330204)

There's all sorts of incorrect presumptions by the original article author, like all the time spent playing Google pac-man was necessarily at work. Like nobody is playing it in their own time.

Another one is that people would do work if it wasn't for pac-man. Hell I'd just find a different distraction to avoid work if the pac-man game wasn't around.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

Indeed, I simply cannot believe how much of lag there is in human resource and management education.

Yes, we came from an industrial age where if you were play pacman, taking a piss, chatting in the coffee room.... then you weren't screwing the bolts on the car or sewing tshirts.
You were definitely losing productivity.

Yet, when it comes to 'thinking' jobs, there is little to measure in terms of productivity. Most of what you pay for is the person being in the job, knowing the environment...
I'm not programmi

• #### Wait... (Score:4, Informative)

<{ten.tniopurht} {ta} {nworbj}> on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:36PM (#32330256) Homepage
it was PLAYABLE?? Oh Damn!
• #### What about urination? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:36PM (#32330260)
How much did people urinating cost?
• #### Re: (Score:2)

Well, the folks at http://www.workpoop.com/ [workpoop.com] will calculate how much your company pays you to poop

• #### Re: (Score:2)

How long before toilets are installed at workstations?

All time not doing work is wasted time, don'tchaknow.

--
BMO

• #### What about "Lost"? (Score:2)

How much of our collective lives did that piss away?
• #### 10 significant digits. (Score:5, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:43PM (#32330300)

I suggest that Mr. Tony Wright learn a thing or two about significant digits. What a glorious heap of bull to take input like "if we assume our userbase is representative", "if we take Wolfram Alpha at its word","approximate cost of", "about 11,000" and then assert a figure like \$298,803,988. 10 significant digits?!? Right.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

It is the salescrap idea where you get extra crunchy "truthiness" by having your invented number look more precise than a real derived value.
We can't cure it because the perception of 10^8 plus or minus about fifty percent sounds very unsure versus the marketing lies of picking a number in that range and doubling it unless you've had at least a basic level of education in maths, which the majority is not going to get until funding improves.
• #### Re: (Score:3, Funny)

Yeah, but when you see a number like \$298,803,988, it seems a shame to just round it off to the nearest hundred million or so, what with the vast loss of accuracy that would entail.
• #### I don't think so. (Score:4, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:43PM (#32330302) Homepage Journal
If it wasn't Pac Man, they would have been playing around with something else. No extra time was lost.
• #### Fortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:43PM (#32330308)

Life isn't all about productivity, or it would be boring as shit.

• #### Re: (Score:3, Funny)

It doesn't matter if your life is boring. Wasting time on games, or anything non-work-related, is stealing from your employer. Get back to work!

-- Management

• #### Updated Synopsis (Score:4, Funny)

<meatpan AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:44PM (#32330312)
"The desperate marketing team at Rescue-Time, who spread FUD about how you spend your online time, did a flawed calculation based on wild speculation and concluded that Google's playable PAC-MAN doodle is the reason why we haven't cured cancer."
• #### The first thing I said (Score:5, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:48PM (#32330330)
The first thing I said after wasting 15 minutes on Pac-Man was "I wonder if you could calculate how much money this game cost corporations around the world in wasted time?"
• #### Wish somebody told me earlier (Score:3, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:07PM (#32330490)

I kept wondering how the fuck a Google banner could be responsible for lost productivity. I am on Google all the time searching for stuff and saw it once and thought cool and moved on....

Till today when I found out it was fucking playable.

So yeah, there is going to be some lost productivity due to this, but it will take decades for Google to get anywhere near the records set by Minesweeper and Solitaire.

• #### Re: (Score:2)

but it will take decades for Google to get anywhere near the records set by Minesweeper and Solitaire

Don't forget Hearts. As a kid, I used to work during the summer at the office where my dad used to work. Every single time I launched MS Hearts, I could easily find a few people on the network to play with without ever inviting anyone. Actually, now that I think about it, because it was the pre-YouTube days and all, I'm guessing Hearts was probably a considerable portion of daily network traffic.

• #### That was predictable, wasn't it? (Score:2)

I have to imagine everyone saw that coming, since even an idiot in one of my IRC channels said "inb4 corporate firewalls block google for lost productivity!" when he first heard about it. Hehe.

• #### Muh-wah-hah-hah-hah... (Score:3, Funny)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:39PM (#32330730)
[Dr. Evil voice] My most diabolical plan ever, wherein I will unleash on the world a computer program that will drain the world's productivity. Think of it. Meeleeyuns of hours of productivity sucked way by my marvelous creation... [/Dr. Evil voice]
• #### Re: (Score:2)

Microsoft's legal team will be seeking an injunction, as this infringes on their prior art.
• #### Thats nothing- how much time to dissasemble it? (Score:5, Informative)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:46PM (#32330772) Homepage

Someone seems to have taken a pac man rom and figured out how the game works. How the different ghosts move and follow you to why you can sometimes "miss" a ghost.

Facinating read... oddly hosted on someone's personal comcast account.

• #### In Soviet Russia . . . (Score:2)

PAC-MAN PLAYS YOU!
• #### A better estimate: \$0 person hours (Score:3, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:54PM (#32330828)

This game only costs person hours if that time would have been spent towards labor if the game didn't exist.

People find distractions all throughout their daily lives, and it is silly to think that the existence of 1 more distraction is going to make a difference. Those people who felt like working kept working, and those people who were looking for a distraction found one, but they would have found one anyway.

• #### Not mentioned in the statistics... (Score:3, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @07:58PM (#32330854)

...is the additional 100 million hours of productivity lost from all of the imagination-less people posting, blogging, tweeting, and re-tweeting the same inane comment, "wow, Google's Pac-Man logo just ruined millions of dollars of productivity today."

• #### Makes same wrong assumptions as MPAA/RIAA/SPA (Score:4, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @08:08PM (#32330914)

The RIAA/MPAA/SPA make the assumption that every pirated copy is a lost sale, and then complain loudly to government and in the media about their "lost revenue", even though they have no data (that they are willing to share...) that says those people with the pirated copies would have bought a legitimate copy if a pirated copy was not available.

This is the same problem with the Pac Man "lost productivity" argument; it assumes the time spent playing Pac Man would have otherwise been spent productively. At least as insane a judgment as the piracy claimants, if not more so, since it's easily reasonable to assume that people who fuck around, fuck around regardless and that some people may have played Pac Man instead of some other form of fucking off like 20 minute cigarette breaks, long lunches, bullshitting around the coffee maker, etc.

But it's a great publicity stunt on their part; there are a ton of companies out there with obsessive, micromanaging and dictatorial bosses who would love to hire them to help "find" all the unproductive employees and systems that they just know are costing them money.

• #### And what about the gains ? (Score:3, Insightful)

on Monday May 24, 2010 @08:47PM (#32331166) Homepage Journal
what about the efficiency gains due to decreased stress levels of employees ? something that affects everything ranging from reducing in-office quarrels to better communication ?

that's not so easy to calculate is it.

#### Related LinksTop of the: day, week, month.

I have a very small mind and must live with it. -- E. Dijkstra

Working...