video games used for team-building at work

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Do you ever get stressed at work?  Or have you ever dreamed of getting paid to play video games?   Many people would answer yes to both questions, and now some companies play multiplayer video games at work to bond with each other and to reduce stress — and they get paid for it!

Kevin Grinnell at Grinnell Computers has started such a plan, and it’s a hit.  He considers it a team-building exercise, saying:

“We laugh until we cry when we play these games. We can do the thing where we have company dinners, and company functions, but those really aren’t stress relief. At times, they can be more stress than they’re worth.”

That last part is certainly true sometimes.  I’ve been to work dinners and outings where you had to pay your way (and didn’t really want to go), or where some coworkers will get drunk and act stupid, or where the company tries to manufacture fun and it doesn’t work and you’d rather be at work than at the “fun” outing.

You don't get to do stunts like this in real life...

You don't get to do stunts like this in real life...

Not only is that a great way to release stress, but it also causes people to let their guard down, to be themselves.  For Grinnell, the gaming is optional, but the option is to either play video games from 3 to 5 pm on Friday with the team, or take the same two hours off unpaid.  I think that’s a great style of motivation.   You can leave early, which sounds good, or you can play games and get paid for it, which sounds even better!

If you aren’t familiar with multiplayer video games, they are as the name suggests — multiple players in the same game.  Often people are on teams in these games, where they work together.  There’s also the added benefit of cost — there’s an initial setup cost to get the game, but then there’s no more business expense for it.  In a way, it’s like going out to play golf or going to a restaurant with your colleagues, except that there’s no cost, and it’s even more fun.

guess what's about to happen here

What could've happened here?

Here’s the link to the news article about it: Shooting the boss (and getting paid for it).  (Props to Turtle Dundee for the link.)

Personally, I think this is a great idea!  And as the owner of my own business, I am immediately implementing this team-building exercise at my company.  (And before you ask, no, I’m not hiring at this time.  Sorry.)  Hopefully many other companies will realize the value in this and start such programs.  It seems like a win-win program for everyone.

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3 responses »

  1. I don’t play computer games. The ones I have tried are exciting for about 60 seconds, so I don’t think it’s for me.

    The whole concept of team “bonding” is crazy to me. I have no interest in relationships with the people I work with. I work for a paycheck only. Offer me another nickel a year, and I will leave my team in a second. (And my company would lay me off if they could earn another nickel a year by doing so.) I just want my colleagues to be pleasant. I don’t want to argue with them, but I don’t really care about them. If one of them leaves, I don’t keep track of him or her.
    Corporate executives live in some sort of alternate imaginary universe, I guess, where the things that they pretend really exist.

  2. Business culture has long favored the extroverted and social. While I have no personal interest in playing video games in a work environment, I think this could help level the field as introverts (often the IT folks) compete for positions higher up the career ladder. Finding a way for people who might normally seem withdrawn and anti-social (career killing traits) to bond with others at work might really be helpful. Even though it’s not “fair” people would rather work with those that they like–even when they lack key job skills.

  3. I used to work at a large IT company, and when you have a team of people that have to work together interactively, it helps when you get along well with them. Of course, no amount of gaming would make me want to spend my free evenings with some of the people, but if it helps you get along with them at work, then it’s great. And it would be better than some of the team outings where they tried to force us to have fun but it just wasn’t fun.

    Just like the happy California cows produce better cheese, happy employees are more likely to produce better work. And gaming makes most people happy (certain games, and also they may not realize it yet).

    And I agree with the 2nd comment, that it helps introverts get “out of their shell”. Just because someone is more quiet than others doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable a worker. Sometimes people get promoted at work because of what they say to their boss as opposed to the quality of work they do.

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