Inside Job: How Much Work and How Much Play?

Inside Job: How Much Work and How Much Play?

Game studios run into the problem of restricting internet access more squarely than other forms of software development both because the very creative nature of what we do requires a certain pull from real life (frequently filtered through the Internet) and because many game programmers will argue that being able to stop and take a break actually assists in productivity.

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Virtually everyone in agreement that with really mental, creative jobs - mostly anything you do behind a desk, but programming especially - it is flat-out impossible to work for eight hours in a day.

I think - and understand that I speak with no experience whatsoever - that the appropriate role of a restriction on non-work-related behavior should be for the sake of keeping honest people honest. There is unfortunately no way to configure an Internet filter to forbid abuse categorically.

In some fields it is sufficient to set a single deadline and leave it to the employees themselves to muster the motivation to achieve it. With the kind of large groups and tight schedules you get in game development, that's not always realistic, but I think that it is preferable where possible to allow your employees to be responsible.

You could, if you wanted to, get real philosophical about it, and tie the issue into the age-old problem of reconciling the existence of evil with free will. Is it better to make evil impossible, or better to allow people to choose between good and evil?

I am completely against restricting internet access at the workplace. Myself, I'm working in a role where internet access is a must and I'm expected to stay up to date with what's going on in the web.

But even apart from that, I just can't stay productive if I can't have my dosage of socializing. I agree that it can get out of hand, but my productivity is not harmed if I keep my Gmail open, reading maybe half a dozen personal emails a day and replying to one or two. I check Facebook when I need an actual break. I usually turn up to work ahead of schedule to have time to go through my RSS feeds. I'm not trying to hide these activities; it's just how I work. As long as I get my work done, I can't see what's the problem.

Often times, spending time browsing the web is actually a boon: I can work very hard for several hours straight if I'm promising myself that I can read that new review I spotted in the morning once I'm done.

Then again, I used to work in a project management position and sometimes I could see my staff wasting time on the internet when they really should have been working hard. I could only hope they were using their judgement to gauge the time we had. Sure it's a tricky issue, but a "no play" policy just wouldn't sit with me. I'm all for better communication, instead, to solve any issues.

It's a mixed bag of feelings. I've seen people abuse the MSN, whiel I loathe that software and rather walk out, spend ten minutes at a coffee shop or something, rather than remaining stuck on this thing.
But MSN-likes are sometimes necessary, and I could enjoy LAN pauses from time to time as well.

Really, it seems that the strict anti internet measures are made to control a few abusers, and finally end hampering most of the workers in a society. No?

Interesting read, missed this before. It would be something I'd enquire about for any job (along with some other work questions of course). I myself think the internet is a better tool, and only becomes a distraction (as much as reading a newspaper, or taking any kind of break), if it is used too much for non-work related activity.

It'd also really hamper the ability for developers to interact with their community, something which I fully endorse more then PR spokepeople doing it for them (same with developers having blogs, etc.).

Nothing like that void between devs and gamers why devs do not need to know what gamers are they just need to churn out thous crap fests and mediocre titles, a PR man to try and spin sht is more than enough!

BTW love the filtering stuff you should listen to the local talk radio nothing like being blocked on stuff you are either reporting or advertising because it came from down on high that we dun like dis,dis and dis so uuu no see it either....

Its liek the whole return game thing lets not log the activity of each consumer as much we can lets stick our thumbs in our ass and ban the whole thing because we are too cheap to implement a more personalized system that works off time/bandwidth not "ZOMG HE USING NET,WE NOT MAKING MONEY, WORLD ENDING!!!". lets keep filtering out reality maybe in time we will make it real....

It's a tricky issue to be sure.

Breaks are an absolute necessity, but when your employees start taking their break a few minutes early, ending the same break a good ten minutes late, and then going online immediately afterwards and updating their blog with some hot gossip they heard from Ben while they took their break....

It's an issue of trust, and abuse of said trust, that gets management to start thinking of restricting the group, rather than the individual, so that work gets done when work should be getting done, mostly likely because it's easier and quicker to apply law to the group than it is to the individual, lest some other individual is doing the exact thing same thing they're stopping someone else from doing, but they don't notice since they're too busy with the one individual, and now I've used individual one, no, two too many times.

Point is, when someone breaks the bond of trust, it's considered easier and more effective to enforce the law with the group as a whole so the experience won't be repeated.

 

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