Gamers with Workmates

Beefy bowling dude

2002

It's Thursday.

I've taken 10 minutes to get lunch, but I need to get back — back to billing my time in 6-minute increments. I'm walking faster than the city throng, avoiding collisions with the slow-walkers, scarfing a nori roll and trying not to spill soy sauce on my TM Lewin shirt.

There is a JB HiFi a block from my office. Going past it, I nearly collide with Brett, another lawyer and my office next-door neighbour, exiting the store. He is clutching a JB bag, whose bulges denote a more voluminous purchase than a mere CD or DVD. Brett falls in alongside, transferring the bag into the hand furthest from me, holding it slightly behind him.

"Mr Carver," I intone with a nod. Then I point to the bag and smirk. "New batteries?"

"No, it's ..." he hesitates, then holds the bag so I can see inside. "A headset and controller."

I take a peek. "PlayStation. Sounds like fun."

"Yeah, there's this game, SOCOM, where you lead a squad of soldiers and you give them commands with the headset. It's pretty cool. Um, my nephew likes it, anyway."

"So there is a use for our dictation skills outside the office."

"Heh, something like that. I don't play it much, actually, just when my nephew comes round."

I don't mention to Brett that after working with him for nearly 3 years, this is the first I've heard of his nephew, or that I have a PlayStation too and I've been playing GTA: Vice City every night for the past 2 weeks.

2007

It's Friday.

The 7 of us are marching down the street, talking animatedly.

I've finished the first week of my new career, trading in the always-on jacket and tie of corporate for the offline-server, open collar of public service. A few of my new workmates have decided to take me to the pub as an unofficial welcome. The original group of 4 has expanded since 5pm, joined by a spouse, then a girlfriend, then a boyfriend. The plus-ones clutch their partners and eye us in the bemused way that relatively sober people do.

We're heading to my apartment. It's a 10-minute walk from the bar. We need to regroup, get food and move on to the next phase of this impromptu bonding session before momentum dissipates and everyone comes to their senses.

Karaoke is mentioned, as it often is around people of a certain inebriation level. Indecisive patter follows about where to go and whether to book.

I mention that I've got karaoke at home: this thing called SingStar, and we could try it while we wait for pizza. The convenience of my argument seems to carry the day.

When we get to the apartment, everyone else is busy fussing with drinks, pizza menus and the bathroom while I start up the PS3 and cringe, controller in hand, while the system updates. No one seems to pay attention to the TV until the SingStar splash screen. I produce two microphones.

Mikail breaks the ice with "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, and with that, we are off to the races. Mikail's starting choice prompts some equally cheesy '80s and disco selections, and thankfully my song list is robust enough to cater to all without downloading anything. In order to keep participation levels high, I introduce dueling mode, so that 2 people can sing at once. No one asks specifically about the PS3, however I pick up some comments that the dueling mode and pitch detector are an improvement on "regular karaoke".

During the evening, I notice Alison perusing my games shelf. For the first time since buying the PS3, I am grateful that the shelf is quite empty. She picks up Heavenly Sword, studies the back cover briefly, then looks around and puts it back.

After a few hours of food, song, drinks and laughs, one couple makes to leave, prompting the exodus of the rest. There are hugs and smiles all round in the doorway.

2013

It's Tuesday.

I am actually excited on my ride in to work. There's so much to catch up on with my workmates. I lent Alison some games a few weeks ago, and she texted me last night that she'd finished one. The smart money is on Mini Ninjas, but I'm hoping it was Assassin's Creed or, better yet, Arkham Asylum.

At lunchtime, Mikail asks me to come to JB HiFi with him. He's got money to burn and wants me to advise on a good value console. Ultimately I counsel him to hold off until the new ones come out at the end of the year. As we wander the gaming aisles, we pass a pair of besuited corporates browsing the new releases. I think of Brett, which triggers a ping of shame for not keeping in touch since I changed jobs. I wonder if he comes to this section of JB anymore.

After lunch, I check in with Tarquin, see how his XCOM: Enemy Within campaign is going. He's been giving his squaddies gene mods, whereas I've run with a MEC-based team. I want to see if he's reached the whale mission yet. We say what a shame it is that he's on PC and me console, else we could face off in multiplayer.

I'm sure I've got some work to do as well. Better not talk to anyone about their Civ 5 campaigns, then.

2014

It's Wednesday.

On a whim, possibly induced by some daytime GWJ forum-lurking and reading about frustrating games, I've dusted off the only Souls game I have, Demon's Souls, and submitted myself for some punishment.

I muddle through the Shrine of Storms. Each time I die, I go to another level and farm an easier demon to regain my body. About the third time I do this, before I return to the Shrine, a message appears onscreen: "BrettyC_74 has invaded your game".

After panicking for a split second, I wipe the sweat off my palms, find a spot at the foot of a wide staircase, and wait with my crescent falchion and shield. Soon enough, a heavily-armoured, red-tinged male warrior rounds a corner in the distance, his huge pikestaff bobbing as he runs around in manic circles in the way that only human players or truly bad AI do. From the middle distance he starts walking cautiously, purposefully, in my direction. When he gets within spitting distance, he bows. I can't remember how to gesture and am too tense anyway. I am watching his pikestaff, which has twice the reach of my falchion.

After a bit of circling around each other, with me blocking a few staff thrusts, I bank on my mobility, roll in, swipe him a few times and roll out again. This hurts him, but he gets a thrust in as I stand up. With one blow I lose a third of my health.

I realise my character looks like a warrior with this armour, crescent falchion and shield, and in warrior terms I am outmatched. Luckily, all this falchion and shield business is my alt gear. I pull a swifty: somersaulting backwards to make some distance, swapping my falchion for my catalyst mid-tumble. Then I lock on and spam my fire spray spell, burning him when he blocks and rolling away whenever he decides to charge through my fire to get within poking distance. My stamina reserves are high enough to keep kiting him until I singe away all his health.

Although the room is empty, I raise both my hands to the ceiling and cheer. The controller tumbles to the floor, firing off another spell. Anxious to save my progress, I return to the Nexus and quit, ending my session on a high note even though I'd made no further progress in the game. I feel like I've kicked the winning goal in an indoor soccer final. I go to the fridge and pour a victory wine.

Only halfway through my glass of wine, when my heart rate returns to normal, does the name of my invader come back to me.

The next day, for the first time in years, I send Brett an email. We arrange to have lunch in a few days. At lunch, we talk about games the whole time.

Comments

That vague embarrassment of sharing your interest in video games to coworkers - I fully understand that feeling. I remember my hidden excitement to find out through a 3rd party that one of my coworkers was a big fan of Skyrim. I thought, "I can't wait to find out what kind of character he plays." Then I found myself avoiding the subject when I would see him at work. That forced me to admit I'm still embarrassed about my hobby.

For some reason board games don't share that same stigma for me. I'm happy to fly that flag with new people, hoping they bite for a game night. Recently I found myself being embarrassed when I admitted I play video games to a couple that we play board games with. Such logic.

Is it an age thing? Will my kids have the same embarrassment?

I'm truly fortunate in my new job. This is the first time I've had people in my office share my love for video games.
It's nice to be able to talk about it.

I'm lucky enough to have four workmates to form a Battlefield 4 squad with.

I work with a guy that introduced me to this very website. I am at least 10 years his senior. It was so awkward at first. Like a father trying to act cool infront of his kids friends.

I just spent the past week locked in a room with 8 of my coworkers for a training session, and now know that they are all gamers.

So excited.

I really liked this article. I work on a trade floor, and get teased about being so vocal about my nerdness - but all the back support staff is huge gamers and we have loads of cool conversations about nerdy stuff and games.

We are mainstrem, you guys!

PRG013 wrote:

I work with a guy that introduced me to this very website. I am at least 10 years his senior. It was so awkward at first. Like a father trying to act cool in front of his kids friends.

I wouldn't worry about that; none of us are at all cool.

McIrishJihad wrote:

I just spent the past week locked in a room with 8 of my coworkers for a training session, and now know that they are all gamers.

So excited.

That's awesome. My boss has teenage boys, so they game (with him). Another guy in my office is a pretty big gamer as well.

The best story was that in one of my test environments, the tenant companies I had setup for training were Microsoft, Apple, Electronic Arts, Activision, and Ubisoft. My software vendor's account rep saw them and shot me an email with his Gamertag.

Dear Penthouse Forum..

Oh, wrong kind of workmates

Great read... it is so interesting to see just how much the video game culture has changed through the years.

This and 'nerd' culture are two things that simply blow my mind these days. Hell, if I had ever worn a Batman shirt at middle school, I would have had my assed whipped -- not that there were days that I didn't get into some sort of fight sans Batman t-shirt, but I can certainly remember in the 6th grade, having a bunch of friends sit around and talk about the D&D Gold Box games at length. When the 7th grade hit, I guess I never got the memo that games were no longer what you were supposed to do and those friends I had just kind of vanished.

It's not the videogaming about which I carry odd shame at work, it's my tabletop habits. Despite the fact that I'm a prominent figure in Pathfinder Society locally - to the point where on the first page of Google Hits using my first name is contact information for anyone wanting to get involved in PFS - I still avoid the conversations and mumble a little about my plans when people ask what I'm up to on Thursday nights.

It's an odd shame, because in my heart I feel like I should be proud, but for some reason I just don't want most of my co-workers to know about it.

While I really understand it, I've never felt embarrassed about sharing my personal love of gaming with my coworkers because I feel it is all in how you present it. If you say you like gaming because you enjoy blowing people's heads off with a shotgun while running full speed, then you might get funny looks. But if you present it and talk about the story, the world immersion, and the mechanics then maybe those odd few who hold to beliefs long past will look at you funy, but most will smile and appreciate that they now understand you a bit bettef.

One thing I have learned is there is little more fascinating than listening to someone talk about something they love.

Feegle wrote:

It's not the videogaming about which I carry odd shame at work, it's my tabletop habits. Despite the fact that I'm a prominent figure in Pathfinder Society locally - to the point where on the first page of Google Hits using my first name is contact information for anyone wanting to get involved in PFS - I still avoid the conversations and mumble a little about my plans when people ask what I'm up to on Thursday nights.

It's an odd shame, because in my heart I feel like I should be proud, but for some reason I just don't want most of my co-workers to know about it.

Yeah, we've coded tabletop gaming among our group as 'geeking,' and usually leave it at that. Pulling dice and books (now Ipads) out in a Denny's? Oh hell no...

I am in my mid-to-late, 40s, and am one of the older people in my department (software engineering). I have inserted myself into gaming conversations among my younger coworkers, which went well. I also asked another (who I did not know was a gamer) "have you ever heard of Kerbal Space Program?" Now I have another KSP addict at work to talk with.

I always wonder if it's because of my age that I never really have issues with finding other gamers at work. I won't bring it up out of nowhere, but if someone asks what I did over the weekend and I played video games the whole time, I'll smile and excitedly confess that I've been playing this really awesome game. I just won't bore them with the details, just as I wouldn't start blabbing to someone about this book I've been reading or movie I had seen unless they're interested in hearing about it.

As such, I've found that a lot of coworkers I have are gamers themselves, and a lot of folks are getting used to video games being a normal avenue of entertainment. There's still that whole "well, I'm not really a gamer" thing, but there's a lot less judgment going on.

At each of my jobs, at least. Then again, I work in web development, and tech savvy tends to go hand-in-hand with gaming, so it's a lot more common than other professions, I imagine.

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

I've found that if I ask any co-worker near my age range (mid-20's) that they have some experience with gaming that we can talk about, and more often than not they still play video games from time to time (the others are just mario/duckhunt).

I really appreciated in House of Cards Season 1 that Kevin Spacey's character plays video games in his downtime to unwind. He is the anti-geek, crafty and excessively driven but video games work into his life. Although the gaming habits starts to die off later in the series, partly for reasons outside the character's control.

manta173 wrote:

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

Yeah, similar case here. Average age in my workplace is in the 40s somewhere, though, so I understand how we're lagging a bit behind on generational changes.

wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

Yeah, similar case here. Average age in my workplace is in the 40s somewhere, though, so I understand how we're lagging a bit behind on generational changes.

Yep, I think the majority here are that age range. The scary thing is that the few my age (31) or younger don't play anything either.

manta173 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

Yeah, similar case here. Average age in my workplace is in the 40s somewhere, though, so I understand how we're lagging a bit behind on generational changes.

Yep, I think the majority here are that age range. The scary thing is that the few my age (31) or younger don't play anything either.

That's my age, too.

What I've learned is that generations aren't really easily divided by birthdate. There are people in their 20s who are fully bought into the ideologies of conservative boomers, and there are folks like Rabbit who are both older than me and in many ways more "Millennial" than I am.

Then again, you might be able to appreciate that the Gen X/Y dividing line will often be drawn just before or just after our birthdates, so the whole notion is obviously sort of a silly mess to begin with.

There are a number of gamers at my workplace, most of them that I know are in my department. 7-10 of us get together once or twice a year for an all-day LAN party, usually in another co-workers garage or in my managers garage (yes, he's a gamer as well). It's a great time. Age range goes from about 30 up 47 (I'm the old guy).

And myself and two others from my workplace play Eve Online together.

wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

Yeah, similar case here. Average age in my workplace is in the 40s somewhere, though, so I understand how we're lagging a bit behind on generational changes.

Yep, I think the majority here are that age range. The scary thing is that the few my age (31) or younger don't play anything either.

That's my age, too.

What I've learned is that generations aren't really easily divided by birthdate. There are people in their 20s who are fully bought into the ideologies of conservative boomers, and there are folks like Rabbit who are both older than me and in many ways more "Millennial" than I am.

Then again, you might be able to appreciate that the Gen X/Y dividing line will often be drawn just before or just after our birthdates, so the whole notion is obviously sort of a silly mess to begin with.

Yeah, the generational thing comes up more often than most would think. Is there a thread on that somewhere? My google-fu did not find one.

manta173 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
manta173 wrote:

I work for a major chemical company. I literally know 1 guy out of the few hundred here that would be classified as a gamer. I do get made fun of for being a nerd a little bit here, but not what I would consider bad. Even in grad school it was hard for me to find gamers... maybe chemical engineering and polymer science are not the realms of gamers.

I keep hearing that gaming is becoming more mainstream... but I see less of it more and more...

Yeah, similar case here. Average age in my workplace is in the 40s somewhere, though, so I understand how we're lagging a bit behind on generational changes.

Yep, I think the majority here are that age range. The scary thing is that the few my age (31) or younger don't play anything either.

That's my age, too.

What I've learned is that generations aren't really easily divided by birthdate. There are people in their 20s who are fully bought into the ideologies of conservative boomers, and there are folks like Rabbit who are both older than me and in many ways more "Millennial" than I am.

Then again, you might be able to appreciate that the Gen X/Y dividing line will often be drawn just before or just after our birthdates, so the whole notion is obviously sort of a silly mess to begin with.

Yeah, the generational thing comes up more often than most would think. Is there a thread on that somewhere? My google-fu did not find one.

I was working on something else for today. I wanted to not always be talking about academic stuff and go lighter, but I'm already full of April Fool's jocularity. Time for something serious!

I work in a largish office, approximately 350 employees. I think there may be 3 other gamers in the building. Age ranges from 18-68. It makes me sad. Fortunately, one of them works in my department, but he's leaving in a few weeks, and I'm transferring to another department (no gamers there).

I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste. I try very hard not to feel this way, but also had a hard realization hit me a couple years back that provides a real conflict for me; success in gaming was robbing me of my real-world ambition.

Dakuna wrote:

I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste. I try very hard not to feel this way, but also had a hard realization hit me a couple years back that provides a real conflict for me; success in gaming was robbing me of my real-world ambition.

This is an interesting one.

There's no question that, throughout my working life, games have helped me deal with the humdrum of office life. I wonder if I had a dream job, "doing what I love", would I work harder and not need as much escapism through games? I honestly can't tell.

I'm reminded of a Bill Hicks bit about motivation (and pot), but you could sub in games: maybe games don't make you demotivated to do other things, they just make you realise that most other things aren't worth the effort.

I also figure that an innate part of me likes playing games.

I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste.

I'm not great at investing heavily in most things, but I will say this: It probably does not help my career that I'm fairly firm in my belief that work is not something I would do quite as often if they weren't paying me. If money weren't an issue, I would be writing, painting, reading, and up to my gills in games. From a certain frame of mind, work is the waste, but I'm willing to be compensated for that wasted time. I suppose that makes it a bit like subsidies to let my passions lie fallow.

Like I said, this is not likely to impress many bosses.

wordsmythe wrote:
I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste.

I'm not great at investing heavily in most things, but I will say this: It probably does not help my career that I'm fairly firm in my belief that work is not something I would do quite as often if they weren't paying me. If money weren't an issue, I would be writing, painting, reading, and up to my gills in games. From a certain frame of mind, work is the waste, but I'm willing to be compensated for that wasted time. I suppose that makes it a bit like subsidies to let my passions lie fallow.

Like I said, this is not likely to impress many bosses.

Yep, I'm the same. I think work is only so that I can go out and enjoy life. (Game in a dark room...) I do enjoy my work, probably more than most people... but I would prefer to do other stuff most of the time.

Dakuna wrote:

I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste. I try very hard not to feel this way, but also had a hard realization hit me a couple years back that provides a real conflict for me; success in gaming was robbing me of my real-world ambition.

I felt this way for a very long time, until I realized that most people my age (mid 40s) probably spend as much or more time watching television as I do gaming. I really don't watch television (in so much as sitting on the couch every night flipping channels, but I do binge on Netflix from time to time) so I feel better about the time I spend in games.

manta173 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste.

I'm not great at investing heavily in most things, but I will say this: It probably does not help my career that I'm fairly firm in my belief that work is not something I would do quite as often if they weren't paying me. If money weren't an issue, I would be writing, painting, reading, and up to my gills in games. From a certain frame of mind, work is the waste, but I'm willing to be compensated for that wasted time. I suppose that makes it a bit like subsidies to let my passions lie fallow.

Like I said, this is not likely to impress many bosses.

Yep, I'm the same. I think work is only so that I can go out and enjoy life. (Game in a dark room...) I do enjoy my work, probably more than most people... but I would prefer to do other stuff most of the time.

High-fives and/or butt-pats all around!

Felix Threepaper wrote:
Dakuna wrote:

I think a part of the reason for our shame or embarrassment about gaming is that fundamentally, we all believe to one degree or another (rightly or wrongly) that games are a waste of our time, and investing heavily is that much more of a waste. I try very hard not to feel this way, but also had a hard realization hit me a couple years back that provides a real conflict for me; success in gaming was robbing me of my real-world ambition.

This is an interesting one.

There's no question that, throughout my working life, games have helped me deal with the humdrum of office life. I wonder if I had a dream job, "doing what I love", would I work harder and not need as much escapism through games? I honestly can't tell.

I'm reminded of a Bill Hicks bit about motivation (and pot), but you could sub in games: maybe games don't make you demotivated to do other things, they just make you realise that most other things aren't worth the effort.

I also figure that an innate part of me likes playing games.

In some ways I DO have my dream job - I get paid to write and act (not as often or as much as I'd like, but enough to have me feeling quite fortunate) and I still play the heck out of games. I've found games actually make me more productive. Play has two main effects for me...

-It allows me to destress / escape from the "daily grind"
-It gives my brain a chance to wander about and engage on different level.

The former is useful even if the "daily grind" is something you love doing. I find I need to decompress. After a nice long gaming session, I find that I'm much sharper and more engaged with any task.