Are you bored at work? Maybe you’re not bored; maybe you just want to game? Gamers gotta’ game after all. At any given time, in waiting rooms, classrooms and cubicles around the world, you’ll find folks gaming their wait times and boredom away on a mobile device or PC. Gaming while standing in a queue is one thing, but gaming at the office is a potential minefield that can result in anything from a mild reprimand to an on-the-spot termination. So how does a player navigate the potential pitfalls of on-the-job gaming? By hacking it, of course.
1. Practice Common Sense
Common sense proves more valuable than any typical office hack could. When playing games at the office,a gamer has to take all the tertiary precautions.
- Turn off the audio. If the game absolutely needs audio, use Bluetooth earbuds. Even one millisecond of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive menu song blasting through the weakest of PC speakers will out a gamer faster than screaming Gooooooaaaaaaal!!! whilst playing FIFA 18.
- Prepare to minimize the game window at any time. Also shrink the game screen as much as possible during play.
- Keep several work-related files open at all times. Like with the game window, prepare to switch to a work window at any time.
2. Choose Games Pragmatically
Stay away from intense, intellectually stimulating and mentally demanding games. Games such as Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty require full attention for success. Instead, go with boredom-chasing classics like Tetris or newer offerings such as Cooking Craze, Gummy Drop!, and Fairway Solitaire. Flash-based games also work well incognito play.
3. Do Not Download Games to an Office PC
The worst possible scenario would involve something like introducing the latest version of CryptoLocker ransomware to the Fortune 500 employer that pays the bills. If downloading is a must, do so at home and transfer it to a flash drive after ensuring it’s clean. Refrain from using verified-safe downloading digital distribution platforms (DDP) like Steam and Origin, too—a supervisor might not find out, but the tech guys certainly will.
4. Make Friends With the IT Department
If you have to download a game be sure to do it after you make friends with your IT department. A gamer can’t have too many friends in her office’s IT department, especially if she chooses to play on a DDP. Generally, using any unauthorized third-party software is a bad idea—every piece of software has vulnerabilities. In September, 2017, for example, a Steam client update conflicted with certain antivirus software, prompting a black screen upon boot-up followed by a crash.
5. Practice Light Espionage
Commit the office supervisor’s schedule to memory and keep an eye out for spies in his circle—every office has a few. By that same token, create a clandestine network with fellow office gamers to stay on the up and up about what’s going down. Supervisors typically follow a routine, usually consisting of scheduled meetings, weekly or daily conference calls, bathroom breaks and so on. Learn this schedule, share it with others in your network and use it to maximize safe gaming time.
6. Use a Privacy Screen
Computer monitor filters and privacy screens typically have anti-glare properties. Using an anti-glare filter for its secondary purpose adds a few precious seconds of reaction time should any would-be narcs, supervisors or otherwise unwanted “Dwight Schrutes” meander into the work-play zone.
7. Set a Timer
Commit to a gaming time limit and employ a timer and self-discipline to adhere to it. 10 to 15 minutes seems the ideal limit in most cases, but every office varies. If a gamer has his work caught up and can afford an hour of non-supervised playing, they should go for it.
8. Drop Some Science
Few rational supervisors can disagree with peer-reviewed journals. However, this doesn’t mean a free pass. But, if an incident occurs in which an at-work gamer has to explain himself, he can use the following as argument ammo:
- According to a 2017 study published in the academic journal, “Human Factors,” casual video-game playing (by subjects fatigued by work-related computer tasks) resulted in greater work engagement and effective restoration than resting without casual playing.
- Playing video games may help ameliorate symptoms of stress during the workday, according to the July 25th, 2017, edition of ScienceDaily.
- A 2013 study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, strategy games, such as XCOM 2 and Supreme Commander, improve short-term memory and cognitive reflexivity, which improves day-to-day work performance by contributing to faster decision making and allocating cognitive resources to their most needed places during frenetic situations. Oh, if only gamers’ parents knew this during the days of the Super NES and Nintendo 64.
9. Clean Up
This could fall under Common Sense, but it’s worthy of its own section. After an at-work gaming session and definitely before leaving work, close all game-related windows, remove any flash drives, log out of any online gaming platforms and clear the browser history and cache memory. Don’t leave a trail.
10. Have Fun
Gaming in a gaming-forbidden work environment can feel good. You’re breaking the rules; sticking it to the man. The risk of getting caught induces a sense of urgency and excitement, but the stress of getting caught limits the enjoyment potential. If a gamer has to hide, sneak and scheme to get a mere 15 minutes of playing pleasure, he has to ask himself if it’s worth the effort. In those situations, it might be better to build the suspense and save it for the comfort of home. Less risk, greater reward, greater freedom—what else does a gamer need?