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How To Deploy a Game Console In the Office?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the early-and-often dept.

Businesses 310

SkydiverFL writes "Does anyone have an idea for a good solution for using a game console (Xbox 360, PS3, etc.) with a laptop and / or external monitor? I am planning to set up each of my developers at the office with a shiny new Xbox 360, surround headphones, and Gold memberships. The only catch is that I have to do it 'gracefully.' I would be grateful for any input on the technical setup and politics (how to get it in and how to work through the politics)." Read on for further details on the situation.SkydiverFL continues, "Long story short, I am the MIS Manager / Lead Architect for a blue collar non-tech company. My team needs to be happy, but the folks in the rest of the office do not really understand what that means for the types of personalities that exist in our department. Even though my team is tucked away in a different part of the building, we do have clients and employees come back here from time to time. I cannot set a monitor on their desk. The console can be here, but it needs to be not so 'in your face.' Each developer currently has a maxed out Dell Latitude D830 laptop, docking station, and a wide screen 20" LCD. The LCD has a dual-input configuration — one for SVGA and one for DVI. The DVI port is in use by the laptop. It would be preferable not to feed the console directly into the monitor. We have employee monitoring software in use and need to track the usage of the console. So, it seems best to use a capture card along with some type of viewer utility. This would allow us to have a record of when and how long the console was used, in case anyone else in management ever has a problem.

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310 comments

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510271)

h aha ha

you are wasting company money. (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510277)

productivity will tank.

you will look like a moron.

Re:you are wasting company money. (1)

prlucas (1297611) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510311)

Classy response.

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Insightful)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510341)

I agree. Why not make up a proposal for one Xbox and a moderate sized TV? Tell your people they can only use it on breaks or during their lunch. Giving each person an Xbox is expensive and my boss would laugh me out of his office if he didn't fire me first.

Is this your first manager type job?

Re:you are wasting company money. (2, Insightful)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511141)

Why not make up a proposal for one Xbox and a moderate sized TV? ... Giving each person an Xbox is expensive

Agreed. One is probably too few, but enough so they'll be a spare controller slot for each employee. Playing in close quarters should (hopefully) improve team skills.

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510351)

That is one opinion, and rather pathetic control freak one... Some people can actually ignore distractions when required and do their work. It can actually be a huge motivation to come to work and make the day go faster. If you have a goal to meet plus a reward when it is met it can improve productivity for the uninteresting tasks at hand.

If you are worried about people not working, then you have already lost, by either hiring bad or not putting people in positions they will excel. Folks find plenty of ways to burn time if they are not motivated, and recognizing that is important.

This may fail miserably, but not because it is a bad idea, but it must be done in a way that aligns with the culture.

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510535)

Some people can actually ignore distractions when required and do their work.

The rest of us post on Slashdot!

Re:you are wasting company money. (4, Insightful)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510721)

This may fail miserably, but not because it is a bad idea, but it must be done in a way that aligns with the culture.

It most certainly does not align with the 'culture' of any kind of functional workplace, so I think it's perfectly appropriate to call it what it is, a bad idea. As your said, distractions or no distractions, motivated employees work better. Not every one is motivated by the employer giving them a perk. No way is a whole group of non-clones going to all be motivated by getting their own console at work. Personally, I would question my manager's judgment and consequently lose motivation. Hell, I don't think anyone would gain any kind of sustained motivation out of something like a game console. It seems to me that this guy asking the question doesn't understand the personalities in his own department either. Of course maybe they really are a bunch of people barely in the real world and also happen to share the exact same obsession with video games. The only reward that is likely to be welcomed by a diverse group of people is vacation time or cash bonuses.

Re:you are wasting company money. (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510357)

Limit game-playing to lunch and break times in a common or break area and have a trusted associate keep it in a locked cabinet otherwise. Have the same trusted associate manually enter the time played on the console. About keeping track of the minutes of console use: don't. What kind of control freak micromanages break activities?

Re:you are wasting company money. (4, Informative)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510641)

I was going to respond originally at the parent level, but I want to add to this post since it seems to make the most sense.

1. Put limits in for breaks/after hours only use.
2. Put the system in a place that other employees cannot get to.
3. Do not advertise the area to anyone but whom should know about it.

Those being said, a long long time ago I worked for a company that had a few tech people playing Age of Empires during lunch. In the beginning, they'd play after hours but over time it migrated into an hour+ long lunch time of having all of the on-site technicians playing. This caused a few problems I'll highlight:

1. The game was being played using company resources (computers) and utilized the company network.
2. There were instances where customers were turned away at lunch time because the employees claimed "break time."
3. Management had some approval on this, but high level management had no clue it was happening.

What I'm guessing happened is someone complained to the higher ups that they got turned away from support even though the techs were at their desks. You CANNOT show your customers that a game is more important than supporting the business.

In my opinion - if there are clear lines of support hours, then outside those "core hours" you could probably pull this off. During business? Well, I'd have to think unless it's an all or nothing (allowing ANY employee to use the systems during a break) you'll have severe people issues. And there's no amount of technology that will help you overcome a jealous employee.

Side note: Used to smoke. Building is smoke free, have to drive off the lot to smoke. Co-workers complain that the smokers get more break time because they take >15 minutes to get off property, chain smoke 2 and come back. Be all end all is that someone is always going to be pissed about something like this, and it's probably better off without even having the option to play games during business hours.

Re:you are wasting company money. (2, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510905)

As an IT professional, I have to say you show a lot of insight into this kind of situation.

I occasionally play video games on the clock--won't lie. But then, so does the rest of the IT department. Gaming is not exactly condoned in our environment, and the boss explicitly states that you do it at your own risk. The difference between our environment and the one you highlight though, is that gaming on the clock has to be treated the same way as casual web browsing. If, during the course of your game, you're needed, you drop what you're doing and take care of it, consequences of the game be damned.

It's the breaking of that rule that can really cause a problem in a way that is definitely hazardous to company productivity. After all, you're not being paid to game, much in the same fashion others aren't being paid to smoke, browse the web, or call their spouse.

On the whole though, overlooking something like that can help increase employee morale... but there are some people and some cases where you cannot.

Re:you are wasting company money. (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511185)

What kind of control freak micromanages break activities?

You've obviously never met Terry Tate *shudders*

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510363)

If your employees' productivity will tank by giving them an Xbox, you have poor employees who can't manage their time (and probably are already producing poorly).

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Funny)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510597)

This from a guy posting on slashdot with a username of "toomuchtodo" There's irony afoot at the Circle K.

Re:you are wasting company money. (1)

strathmeyer (208375) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510609)

This only says things about your productivity; maybe his employees aren't morons?

Re:you are wasting company money. (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510645)

Tell that to Google, who has consoles, arcade games, pool tables, foosball, swimming pools, and just about everything else you can imagine. They seem to be doing okay as a company.

Re:you are wasting company money. (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510933)

Company seems to be doing ok. However, they seem to be producing very little in terms of new products for the sheer number of people there. People probably thought Nortel was doing pretty good when their stock price was $120 and they had all the same perks. I'm sure it will come back to bite them in a couple years.

Re:you are wasting company money. (5, Insightful)

flithm (756019) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511003)

I work for IBM, and we have a bunch of PS3's, ping pong, pool tables, shuffle board, fooseball, etc., that people can play whenever they want.

No it doesn't hurt productivity, in fact quite the opposite. Sometimes you just need to decompress, go do a few laps around a track, shoot a few balls, or get in some socializing with co-workers over a friendly game of ping pong.

The motto at IBM is that management trusts their employees. As long employees get their work done who cares what people are doing or when they're doing it!

You can just as easily slack off at your desk as you can in front of a game console. What people notice is results, and happy people produce better results.

I don't think you need to give every developer a console, and I think that would ruin a perfectly good opportunity to create more social interaction. Put all the games in common areas where people can gather.

I've solved more problems while chatting with colleagues on a break than I could begin to count.

Re:you are wasting company money. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25511241)

Google is made up of over acheiving programmers that work an excess of 55+ hours a week. Comparing google to a blue collar non-tech company is as dumb as this idea

Google doesn't do any real work... (2, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511275)

Outside a few core developers there's very little work done at Google. It's all about meetings and impressing visitors.

Re:you are wasting company money. (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510839)

Or nobody will use them because they know they are being monitored. The summary says usage will be tracked...it's like some sort of sick science experiment. Here's a game system, but we're going to monitor your usage. Oh, and the Company execs may be egainst the whole idea, so next time layoffs come around, the guy who plays the most games loses his job. Brilliant. Why not just hand out the game systems as bonuses, and let them bring them home?

Hire me (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510289)

Please :)

You're easy and cheap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510427)

I would not only demand on XBox but also porn.

Geeze, you kids sell out too cheaply.

Confused (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510291)

Are you trying to be their manager or their friend?

Re:Confused (3, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510459)

More generally: Why?

I think the most important thing is to be able to answer why. I do pretty wierd things with company money, but since I can generally show a business case and since I've mostly been right (==directly, provably, profitable) in the past I tend to get away with it.

If you want to motivate them; make them happy and so on, I suggest a ping-pong table. This will bring them together and make them interact. At the same time it will encourage fitness and movement which will counteract the rest of their job. There must be lots more sports equipment which would really help.

Re:Confused (4, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510627)

I suggest a ping-pong table

You're kidding, right?

pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!
pik-pok!

I mean, who *wouldn't* want to listen to that all day?

If you're going to give each developer a console, then actually give it to them. No strings attached. Let them take it home. I work for a game development company. Last Christmas, my company gave everyone a PS3, Rockband, and a copy of Ratatouille on Blu-Ray. Some people elected to keep it in the office, most took it home.

But even in our work environment, you generally don't see too many people playing games during the day. We work hard, but we go home after eight hours to be with our families, play games, and live our lives however we choose to. It's understood that when we're at work, we have a job to do, and we're very focused on that. In general, I don't care much for playing games at the office. I'd much rather get my job done, get home faster, so I can relax in my *own* home.

If you really want people to be happy, then treat people with respect, and encourage your people to work hard for eight hours, five days a week, then get the hell out of the office.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510693)

This is a much better idea. But if you really must do it your way ... Hire me. I'll take care of everything.

Re:Confused (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510571)

Whether or not this is a good/bad idea depends on a lot of things. In most situations, I agree, it's not a great idea. On the other hand, there are some jobs with genuine down-time. I mean, lots of jobs have some amount of down-time, and lots of times there are other productive things that people can be doing during those times, but sometimes not. Sometimes there are genuinely jobs that, when there's nothing to do, there's nothing to do.

What some people don't always recognize is, sometimes the job is to sit around and wait. Helpdesk jobs can be like this, for example. It may be that a person's job is entirely reactive, and on a day that nothing breaks, there might be nothing to do. Unless you actually want to create a task for yourself of finding things for them to do, you have to accept that they're going to surf the web, play flash games, etc.

Now you might say, "Fine, let them do that. But why would I spend extra money that's going to distract them?" To that I'd say, it depends on the people, and it depends on the work environment. Sometimes you might do something like this just for a perk, to keep good people around and keep moral up. Also, I know for myself, sometimes I can be more productive if I get a genuine break. If I can get up, get away from my desk, and get engaged in something else for 10 minutes, then I'll come back more productive than if I sat in front of my computer playing flash games. It actually helps to have a clearer distinction from when/where I'm "taking a break" vs. "working".

So because of these reasons (and some others) I let me people play Rock Band in the office. I know when people have work to do, and I can see when they're playing Rock Band. It's a little bit of team building, keeps people happy, and in the past 6 months or so, no one has neglected their work in favor of Rock Band to any noticeable degree.

Beyond all that, with regards to the question, "Are you trying to be their manager or their friend?" I agree that sometimes being someone's boss/manager means you can't really be their friends. Once you have some kind of power over someone, they're going to hate you a little. Still, you have to manage that hatred. Sometimes, if they hate you too much, it gets to be counter-productive, so it can be worthwhile to do nice things for the people you manage.

So the real question is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510295)

Are you hiring?

Reason? (2, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510297)

What's the reason behind this? Without knowing why you want to do it, it's hard to find a way to help you justify the idea.

Re:Reason? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510387)

He asked slashdot for a way to *implement* the idea. If you prefer to answer justification questions, then go hang out on a managerial forum.

Re:Reason? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510509)

His idea is presumably a solution to a perceived problem. There may be other solutions to the problem that he hasn't considered. We're all about creative solutions here.

Re:Reason? (2, Informative)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510733)

He also said that he wanted advice on the "politics" of getting the Xbox into the office, and it's kind of hard to justify the Xbox to management if you don't know what it's for.

wtf, carot AND stick? (5, Insightful)

Project2501a (801271) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510299)

ok, it's nice to think that someone understands that i need to space our for a while. and it's a good thing you're giving out consoles.

so why do you then monitor their use? it's like taking the consoles back?

Re:wtf, carot AND stick? (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510323)

Chances are that upper management wouldn't go for it unless there was some way to monitor the use. Can't have the employees playing games all day, right?

Re:wtf, carot AND stick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510425)

Dear employees: You WILL relax. And to make sure you are relaxing the exact right amount, we will be monitoring you every moment.

From orbit... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510305)

...it's the only way to be sure.

First off, (1, Redundant)

lol slashdot (1128487) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510315)

Are you hiring? And if so, can I apply?

tv input card (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510321)

use a tv input card.

Re:tv input card (1)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510377)

The video capture delay will introduce too much latency to make pretty much any game unplayable.

You are monitoring productivity and you want to introduce XBox 360's? Seems like two ideas that don't mix.

Re:tv input card (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510951)

Actually, only a good TV Tuner with onboard MPEG encoder will cause delay. You can get a crappy tv tuner that doesn't do anything on board and just converts the signal into a raw video stream. It won't be any good for a PVR, but it will probably be better for playing games.

You have got to be kidding me... (2, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510343)

Employees have enough distractions as is (the Internet in the office...), but you want to give them all a game console? If your company is publicly traded, let me know so I can sell now if I have any....

Re:You have got to be kidding me... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510919)

Have any Google stock? You might want to sell that. OMG people having fun at work, bad for productivity!

Re:You have got to be kidding me... (4, Funny)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510973)

You keep your shares in your bed?

makes no sense (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510367)

I'm the last person to be advocating nose to the grindstone blah blah get your work done, Cratchet behavior. That being said, what's the possible point of having gaming consoles in the office? I much prefer the idea of get in, work hard, get out after 8 hours, don't put in more than 40 if you can help it. Time spent at home with family is worth more than any sort of office camaraderie, fakey or othewise.

When all the dotcom stuff was going on, I never could quite understand their idea of having game consoles in the office. If I worked there, I couldn't imagine playing on it myself because I would feel conspicuous, like I was goofing off on company time with a big sign over my head saying "pay attention, this is more flagrant than slashdot!"

Personally, I think goofing off for a coffee break on slashdot is great. Checking the news while waiting for a report to generate/program to compile/etc is perfectly acceptable. Maybe setting aside a night every week or two to play department vs. department FPS is cool. But for the most part, the best thing you can do for your people is make sure they can get in, get their work done quickly and efficiently, and get them out the door at quitting time. That does more for sanity than all the perks in the world.

Re:makes no sense (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510559)

I'm the last person to be advocating nose to the grindstone blah blah get your work done, Cratchet behavior.

I should start by saying that this is exactly what's going on where I work, right now. It's Saturday, and I'm stealing a few moments before I get to work again.

That being said, what's the possible point of having gaming consoles in the office?

First and foremost: Morale. It's kind of fun reading these comments that say things like "Are you hiring"?

We've got one Xbox 360, and one Wii, both hooked up to an HDTV, in a room with comfortable chairs (no couch yet). We have less than 10 employees, most of whom aren't avid gamers, but at the very least, it's a way to celebrate a major milestone.

More recently, we've got beer fridays. I stick to root beer, but I appreciate the sentiment -- we aren't just a bunch of people thrown into an office by chance or by cruel HR decision. We are human beings, working on something we believe in, and we genuinely like working with each other.

Time spent at home with family is worth more than any sort of office camaraderie, fakey or othewise.

First: You assume there's a family involved.

That said, some do have families. It's not the point. If the work is important, then the people you work with are also important.

Personally, I think goofing off for a coffee break on slashdot is great. Checking the news while waiting for a report to generate/program to compile/etc is perfectly acceptable.

Which is something you can't do as well with coworkers.

I should also point out:

Do NOT rigidly monitor its use. Just make it conspicuous enough that if someone's on it, you know about it. Wait for a problem before you start that...

If most of your employees would always rather be playing games than working, it can't be very interesting work.

It's a bit like monitoring Internet usage at work -- if an employee is really spending all day on Slashdot, that's a problem which should be addressed separately. If you're worried about them doing something illegal, make that their own responsibility. But if you're firewalling and logging everything pre-emptively, you're punishing those of us who are otherwise honest employees, and are probably more productive when we can get our Slashdot coffee break.

Now, back to work...

How about (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510381)

starting with my cube and try some options there first before risking it at your own company?

Quake worked (5, Interesting)

dwat001 (513384) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510383)

I was in an office where we had a culture of approx 3 10 minute Quake games a day, multi-player all in.

With the occasional after work longer session. We found a quick 10 min game increased productivity reduced stress and was good for the team.

part of what worked was that we all played at the same time so we could yell and woop and curse.

Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510389)

..what a stupid question.

Dotcomtastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510399)

Fire off some Nerf toys to distract the office working peons in the room and while their attention is elsewhere send in installation team on their Segways to drop the consoles off.

bad idea (1, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510403)

If you have to ask how to do something like this, then it's probably a bad idea.

You're kidding, right??? (4, Insightful)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510405)

Okay, I've been in IT a while, and I know plenty of developers. I'm unaware of a developer "Needing" a console at his desk in order to do his job, unless he happens to be a game developer on that console.

That being said, you mentioned this was a blue collar company.

How long, roughly, do you really think it will take for the rest of the company to find out that their co-workers are being paid to play games? I guarantee you, I'd be *PISSED* if I found out one department had the company paying for time (whether salaried or not) that was spent on games. Imagine what happens when Joe Plumber (insert favorite and/or appropriate profession here) finds out? How long before one of your developers brags about it to someone outside the department?

Not only that, but a console per person? Are you kiddng? Assuming its a modern console, that's at a minimum $199/person. That's a lot of money. Are you buying them games, too? If one dies, are you going to be spending time and money to send it in for warrantly repairs? How about 2 days after warranty runs out? You got budget to repair/replace? How about when the controller breaks? You payin' for that?

You buying the games, too?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about making the workplace fun. How about you buy one console and put it in a common area, and maybe give the "blue collar" guys one in their lunchroom, too? If someone is gone from their cubicle for 4 hours a day, should be obvious, right? Less money spent, more accountability.

Or, and here's a crazy idea, I know, how about you expect them to actually work 8 hours a day since they get paid 8 hours a day and let them blow off steam in other ways. You could just give it to them to take home. Or have after hours lan parties or console parties. Go to a bar.

Bottom line, you are not just asking for trouble, you've actually gone out, started blasting its mating call at the top of your lungs, and smeared its favorite food all over your body and genitalia while naked. This is a half-baked idea at best that won't last very long, for a variety of reasons.

Bill

Re:You're kidding, right??? (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510467)

I'm unaware of a developer "Needing" a console at his desk in order to do his job, unless he happens to be a game developer on that console.

Even then we don't need them. We use a dedicated devkit, which is functionally pretty similar but many of them won't play actual commercial releases of games.

Re:You're kidding, right??? (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510621)

Assuming its a modern console, that's at a minimum $199/person.

Minimum wage is still going to be over $10k/year. Developers don't work minimum wage.

I've had a company laptop that was easily $1-2k. Conservatively, a decent beige-box workstation is still going to be around $500.

If a company is balking at spending an additional $200/person, that company needs to have its priorities examined, and very likely, some heads need to roll. Even if you consider the games, warranty, etc, there's no way it's going to add up to any significant fraction of the money spent on a good employee, or the value derived from a good employee -- especially a happy employee.

That said...

How about you buy one console and put it in a common area, and maybe give the "blue collar" guys one in their lunchroom, too? If someone is gone from their cubicle for 4 hours a day, should be obvious, right? Less money spent, more accountability.

That is, in every way, a good idea. Maybe more than one, maybe more than one common area, depending on the size of the company, but the principle is the same.

But in no way should price even enter into this.

Re:You're kidding, right??? (3, Funny)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511207)

If one dies, are you going to be spending time and money to send it in for warrantly repairs?

No, if one dies you just give his console to someone else.

hard to find cheap HD input (1)

erase (3048) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510413)

content owners have made it difficult to obtain hi def tv inputs for computers. all the cheap ones you can get will only import SDTV over the wire. the cheap HDTV ones only bring in OTA HDTV, which is useless for your purposes. you'd have to move up to professional input cards (and prices) to get HDTV input over the wire.

perhaps instead of trying to monitor the video output, you could monitor the power output (with intelligent power bars and the xbox power cable somehow locked into the power bar).

Expresscard tvtuner (1)

aldeng (804728) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510445)

Just use an Expresscard TV Tuner and feed the 360 into it. If you didn't have the requirement that you be able to track what they do I would suggest picking up a 360 VGA cable and going directly into the monitor so they could game in HD, but I'm guessing that's not much of a priority.

Social console playing only (4, Insightful)

forsey (1136633) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510447)

A console in the office can be good, but I can't see giving every person their own as being good. It's better to have just one or two setup in a lounge area so it encourages the employees to play it together in the same room (as opposed to on XBL with each other) and encourages them to build stronger relationships with eachother. You want your employees to view their desk as a work area, so when they are at their desk they will focus on work. If the console is at their desk then the barrier between work and play blurs and they'll end up being much less productive. In short, a console in the office (in my experience) works best as a tool to encourage socialization. At their desk it just another way to avoid work, and even a good employee could fall into that trap.

WinTV + DScaler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510449)

Get some kind of USB capture device (I'm using a wintv model [http://www.hauppauge.com/], but I wanted to watch tv + play games) and a copy of DScaler (http://www.dscaler.org/).

Why does it need to be at the office? (4, Insightful)

Pahalial (580781) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510451)

Give it to them for home as a bonus. Management won't really care, in-office productivity won't take any hits (except maybe right after hyped releases) and other employees won't see it and so won't care.

Plus their families can enjoy it as well, where applicable.

Re:Why does it need to be at the office? (1)

jcoleman (139158) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510777)

Mod parent up, this is the only reasonable solution.

Employee monitoring... (4, Insightful)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510469)

I have never been a fan of monitoring employee activity. Employees should be measured by output, not by how often they spin their gerbil wheels.

Not sure how I got into the gerbil analogy, but I'll continue with it.

Gerbil 1 runs his wheel all day and is slow... Generates 5000 revolutions per day.

Gerbil 2 runs his wheel half the day but is fast enough that he generates 6500 revolutions.

If I were to monitor these gerbils I would be disappointed by Gerbil 2's work ethic.

If you could only keep one gerbil and send the other to Richard Gear's house, which one would you keep?

Re:Employee monitoring... (3, Funny)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510517)

> Richard Gear's house

Names have been changed to protect the innocent... I swear it wasn't a misspelling. (Yeah, that's the ticket)

Re:Employee monitoring... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510849)

It's a conspiracy!

Richard Gear Solid: Gerbils of Revolution

Re:Employee monitoring... (1)

rk (6314) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510999)

Drink -> Nose -> Keyboard

Damn, another keyyyyyybr? bite thhhhhhhhhhhe dst

Not such a good idea (2, Insightful)

MadCat (796) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510491)

Bad news if you want to give all the devs their own console. You'll find that productivity will tank. In our office we've got a 360 and a PS2 sitting in the break room, and we're free to wander off and play it for a while if we feel the need for it; this way at the very least someone will notice you spending hours on end at it and will tell you to stop being a dick and get back to work.

Ofcourse the competition for the thing during break time is immense but hey, adds to the flavor.

Use one as a team activity (2, Insightful)

Talsan (515546) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510495)

Seriously? You really think that an Xbox 360 is a good idea?

Get one for the team and put it in a break room or meeting room. Besides, consoles are more fun when you play with others.

No go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510523)

I think a tuner would introduce too much lag in the video. I'm not sure about PCI express cards, maybe those have enough bandwidth. Anyone tried it?

Don't need a converter to use a desktop monitor (1)

htm3 (253574) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510531)

The 360 can output vga without conversion, you can buy the cable (1st party) anywhere. Most modern monitors can handle hd modes supported by the 360 so it works out quite well. The cable includes rca plugs for sound, you can probably find a ready made converter to go from rca to a 3.5" jack for headphones at any radioshack.

A console _each_? (4, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510547)

You're planning on giving _all_ the developers a console _each_? Some way that makes my head assplode. Isn't one of the points of consoles that you gather a bunch of people around the same machine and trash-talk while playing (i.e. the person-to-person socialization)? Oh well, if you think it's a good idea, go ahead.

I can tell you what my former employee did: put a big TV and a wii in the conference room. According to local tradition, we play a game or two after lunch, and a few friday afternoon while having a beer. If we spend too much time on the wii, the boss-man can probably see it on our weekly productivity reports.

In general, we were trusted to not slack off, which seemed to work fine. I saw the occasional emails saying "I'm sick, so I'm gonna work from home to the best of my ability today." When I was out of tobacco, I went to the nearby supermarket and bought some; I felt no need to tell the boss I'd be out for a few minutes.

Treat people like responsible adults and they will act responsibly.

foosball (2, Insightful)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510561)

I'd recommend getting a foosball table (or similar) instead. It's a group activity. If it's in a common area, any employee can play whenever they like and you won't have a lot of employees bitter that some of the others have their own personal game station, and games are generally pretty short. Most employees aren't going to waste half the day playing foosball the way they might playing a game console.

Get a 1 or a few Pinball games they are fun to pla (1, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510675)

Get a 1 or a few Pinball games they are fun to play.

Welcome to the modern world of A/V equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510569)

I have tried to find equipment to do this myself. I travel for work a fair amount and hotel's don't usually have HDTVs in them. So I wanted to use my laptop as the hi def display.

The problem I keep running into is the content industry's aversion to letting something that a user has control over record hi def video. What equipment I have found that can take hi def component and/or HDMI is expensive equipment intended for the video production industry.

There are component to VGA converter boxes, but you need to check if the monitor can handle the signal the boxes output. There may be some that change the timing as well as the color space, but the majority I have found just translate the color space to RGB.

There are some gadgets to convert HDMI to DVI, but in order for the process to work, the HDCP stream needs to get stripped. The keys to these devices may have already been revoked though. If not, there is still the legal issue of defeating a DRM scheme.

Unless some other commenter knows of something, my opinion is that the best you will be able to do via a capture card is 480p which may not be acceptable in your case (I know it's not in mine).

Don't do it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510589)

Is your company working out of a member's garage? Is your company just a handful of individuals who are already putting in ungodly amounts of time?

No? Well you'll be stupid to try and put a game console in a workplace. The whole reason for all those video games and snacks was that a lot of companies were formed out of garages and the founding members lived in them. As the company got bigger, they brought their homes into the workplace. You'd be stupid to do that in an existing workplace. Your group will look like slackers. Don't do it.

Our solution at a game dev co (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510657)

Everyone has a Nitro (DS dev kit) so they can play the current game we are working on anytime.

Gaming on the XBox, and PC Gaming (i.e. Call of Duty) is usually reserved for lunch, or after 6pm)

As long as you get the work done, gaming is a non-issue -- its only when things get out of balance is there a problem.

absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510661)

Michael Bolton: That's the worst idea I've ever heard in my life, Tom.

Samir: Yes, this is horrible, this idea.

The only question I have... (1)

MahariBalzitch (902744) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510689)

Are you hiring?

Display delay (1)

TBoon (1381891) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510695)

All analog capture cards I've ever tried this with have had a slight delay in showing stuff on-screen. (I've had 4 in the last 10-12 years.) Not much, just enough to notice it's there, especially when looking for it. I've never tried to play fast-paced game on it so I can't say if it's enough to affect gameplay, mainly because the picture quality suffered too much (due to de-interlace/resize/etc) for my taste.

Seems to be a diconect already (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510705)

You want your employees to be happy but you use employee monitoring software, wtf? I work for Google so I think I know what you are kind of going for.

Why are you putting these at everyone's desk? Half the fun of a console is playing with other people. Rock Band is almost exclusively what we play at work. GTA4, GoW, etc all gather dust. In addition it if's not at the work station people will be self regulating. It's a lot easier to just "play for a couple of min while this compiles" if it's at your desk. And we have clients/tours come through our office too, and the game room is a stop on the tour showing it off. We are geeks, it's kind of expected. And don't reserve it for just your devs, let everyone play or people will bitch. Don't worry after the novelty wears off the sales people won't touch it much. :) If they do, hey that's great, it's team building between business units and might help moral (less isolated) and might spur some innovation for one side or the other of the company.

Also, productivity will tank to start with. They will be playing with their new toys and will get less done. Be ready for this, you will probably want to let your manager know and try and get some kind of grace period. But if it's not at their desks people will self regulate eventually and those who don't will just be more obvious. People like that will find ways to screw around, might as well give them an obvious way.

So get a conference room and turn it into a game room. Get a nice big TV and a xbox and some social games. Maybe a Wii too (Mario Cart does get some play)

From a computer gamer that works at home... (3, Insightful)

betamaxV2.1 (609267) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510779)

I am an extremely avid computer gamer. I spend 15+ hours a week playing computer games (TF2, Crysis, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc). I also work from home as a Sys admin and DBA. Having my game machine also double as my work machine made focusing on work extremely hard as I am expected to be available from 8-5 most days M-F. (old school corporate culture slowly creeping into 21st century).

When I first started doing this it was very difficult for me to resist the temptation for firing up TF2 while I was waiting for some SQL to finish exporting data or an application to finish rebuilding. The problem is as with any game. You get sucked in. 5 minutes can easily turn into 1.5 hours.

So unless you are going to spend your time wondering around everyones desk and making notes on how long they have been playing, I would listen to others ideas. Put the console in the lounge. Plan after hours lan parties or trips to the bar. I am sure that it would be ok to work through lunch one day and fire things up an hour early.

The problem would never be that your employees would be irresponsible with the console. The problem is that anyone that is a gamer knows it is very rare to spend just 5 minutes on a game. For me it is even harder on flash games like bookworm or tower defense much less a more engaging game like Halo or whatever else is popular at the moment on the 360.

Connecting them to the monitors is the way to go. (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510789)

Most capture card solutions are going to have one of two problems:

1) Horrendous latency problems due to encoding time

2) Limited to SD resolution capture (720x480)

3) both of the above.

Problem #1 literally makes games unplayable, as it ads about a .7-1 second lag between the video output and when it is displayed on the screen.

Problem #2 removes a lot of the benefit of having an HD console. A lot of X360 titles lose a lot of their visual quality when playing at standard definition, it can reduce the field of vision for game play, and some titles, the developers actually did a crap job with the standard def assets, and the game has unreadable objects at standard definition (Dead Rising).

Devices that can capture video real time at HD resolutions, such as component capture tend to be really exotic hardware requiring fancy IO (like firewire 800, or eSata, or PCIe), or, they have internal compressors that add that horrible lag time to the video. Some of them, are still rather immature for commercial products, as well, with driver errors and such.

For the best gaming experience, I'd use the SVGA input, or use monitors that that have component in to connect the X360s to. That'll give the best gaming experience.

Instead of monitoring a capture utility, just monitor network activity from the consoles, which all have unique mac addresses.

I think any sort of monitoring scheme is going to require an element of trust on the part of your workers because smart, employees will always find a way around these things. Also, the addition of a free-time "perk" of any sort should adjust your existing productivity metrics. That is to say, whatever you use to measure work quality and completion now, should work just as well after adding consoles. If you don't have these metrics in place yet, then you just don't know what your people are doing.

In the game industry, we all have piles of consoles on our desks, along with rigs built specifically for gaming and software development. For the most part, people "get" when they're working and when they're not, and they do the right thing as long as expectations are set correctly. People occasionally get fired for getting nothing done and being addicted to WoW, but that is relatively rare.

My work (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510803)

At my work, we started playing Starcraft at lunch. It was cheap, it's very social (I'm getting to know guys I didn't talk to much before), and it has been great for morale.

Having a micro-managed game console... I mean, I like games, but I would feel like a child turning on my special toy for 15 minutes before bedtime. Whatever good will may have come of this is being squandered by your micro-management.

Humor Them... (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510819)

Get a few 'Training films' on Blue-ray, tell them that its just as cheap to get an xBox 360 as to buy a blu ray player. Then have a few xBox games as giveaways at the office party. Then find out who is using them.

Also get a few people interested in Team Building with Counter Strike and Halo 2...

Umm... Where is this? Can i send you a Resume?

A Lie of Omission is Still a Lie (4, Insightful)

grondak (80002) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510841)

... and there's no room for lying in business.

Hiding the consoles like you are and tracking their use "just in case" is the same as failing to inform management, which makes your acts lies of omission. Think twice. Make sure your management actually understands what you intend to do. They should see the reports of developer gaming time that I think you're going to produce.

Of course, the monitoring will make the developers quit gaming, so I think you should just abandon the effort. Do something more constructive with your time and theirs: write the software your shareholders pay them to write. If they have a problem with work/life balance, tell them to cut out all goofing off at work and to go home when the whistle blows.

(Yes, I'm making a lot of assumptions! Chastise below!)

Two consoles=team building (1)

Palal (836081) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510955)

Set up one to two console(s) in the office with a 40" plasma screen. Great team-building exercise.

VGA/HDMI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25510957)

The Xbox 360 Pro offers HDMI out of the box, and Microsoft also makes a fantastic VGA adapter which comes with all the things you need to patch the sound through a desktop computer. The Xbox currently only supports 16:9 for widescreen, but 1280x1024 is also supported, along with many others, and 16:10 support is coming with the NXE Update in November.

Is this for real? (4, Insightful)

lunartik (94926) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510977)

"My team needs to be happy, but the folks in the rest of the office do not really understand what that means for the types of personalities that exist in our department."

Honestly, I think this is bullshit. The idea that programmers are some social recluses who need to be coddled in the workplace and given special privileges that other employees don't get is pretty bunk. You know, I bet a lot of people who work in other parts of the company have hobbies and interests outside of work too. What's next? An auto restoration garage? A knitting room? An art studio?

If you are seriously thinking about putting a personal game console at every desk, maybe you should instead pitch to your boss the cost savings of contracting out your IT work.

Sorry to rain on the parade.

Re:Is this for real? (4, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511081)

I agree. That just shows how a lot of teams are filled with fucking spoiled little brats who still think they're in college.

If someone wants to make developers "happy" to keep them productive, make sure the projects managers aren't acting like idiots, and that the devs have the tools they need to do their job (Doing business application development on a single 17 inch monitor = painful. Fortunately that doesn't seem to be the issue of the person who submitted the article).

Beyond that, its a fucking job, not a party. You can have fun while doing your job, but there are god damn limits.

Don't (3, Insightful)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510979)

Unless you're a shop developing XBOX games, don't do it. Period.

I've had bad experiences, all around, with allowing gaming in the office.

We used to have Friday afternoon pizza parties and gaming sessions at work. The gaming-at-work habit grew (whenever my back was turned), and it seriously hurt productivity. Gaming can be addictive, time-consuming, and distracting. Endorsing it in any form, opens the door for rationalizing gameplay when people should be working.

We stopped doing that, and actually had to let a couple of people go (turns out their PC's were loaded with 95% games, 5% work). Things were much better after we broke that habit.

Also, spoiling people too much gives them a sense of entitlement which can be hard to deal with later.

Have a Christmas Party or summer gettogether with a bunch of network games set up; that's a lot of fun, and keeps it separate from work. That always worked well for us.

Jealousy within the company (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#25510995)

Take a look at the rest of the responses here. There is no way you can do this without making others jealous, which means there's no such thing as graceful. It's unfortunate that human nature works like this. (I've personally been affected by such silliness, though it has nothing to do with console games, and it's made my workplace experience much less pleasant. C'est la vie).

So either give them X-boxes to take home and call it a work bonus or as others have suggested put it in a common lounge area. Either will STILL result in some jealousy but particularly the take home solution won't have everyone in the office scrutinizing productivity and babbling about being paid to play games.

Human nature's a son of a bitch sometimes.

A mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25511039)

How do you do it so management doesn't have a problem with it? Unless you're a game company writing Xbox 360 games... Don't do it. Period.

This is the most ridiculous, amateurish idea I've ever heard of. Surely you don't have so much budget lying around in this economy that it couldn't be better spent on other things...

Dual Input Monitors (2, Informative)

Smith55js (1206108) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511047)

I use my Xbox 360 at home on my PC using my Dual Input Monitor. I have the Xbox 360 using the VGA input while the PC uses the DVI input. The Xbox 360 parental controls built into the console will allow you as an employer to set limits on when it can be used as well.

Well.. (2, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511085)

We have an XBox 360 in the office, hooked up to a nice 52" Samsung TV, and it's used perhaps once or twice a month. Once the novelty wears off, they'll probably be wanting you to go get them a new expensive gimmick.

You've missed the point (2, Informative)

gmccloskey (111803) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511129)

The detail you provide in your question is telling. You discuss mostly the technical aspects (laptop spec, ports, etc.). You barely describe the rationale, or address how it will be perceived, only claiming that other in the company don't understand. You fail to set out the business benefit, or how you will pitch it to your seniors. You fail to set out the personal benefit - apart from the fact you've given everyone a shiny console.

So it's not clear why anyone would want it, or why anyone would approve it. it is clear that by failing to communicate to the rest of the company, people will arrive at their own conclusions, and they are likely to be ones that do not reflect well on you. This is not shaping up to be a McKinsey case study in how to execute an innovative reward scheme that will meet universal acclaim and cure cancer.

Have you had a bunch of your team actually ask for this? I thought not.

Go back to the basics. What are you trying to achieve? What are the potential solutions of meeting your goals. How much will it cost the company? What are the benefits for your team? What are the benefits for your company? What are the drawbacks for the team / company?

And anyone who says "google does it!" doesn't understand that (a) google hires a very very particular type of personality and (b) google has a very particular corporate culture which is geared to using alternative reward schemes. If you want those things, go work for google, or another company with similar values.

Just one question (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511147)

Where do I send my resume to?

silly (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511175)

It takes around 2-3 minutes to start playing a game on XBox after console startup, disk loading, and going through the game menus. Since it takes that long to start, a person will probably be playing for at least 10 minutes. That's 13 minutes already gone when a person decides to play. This will cause people who work to either not use the console at all, or maybe once a week, or it would cause too much time being wasted. It's lose-lose. Especially since the people playing know you're monitoring their usage.

The best bet is to have an employee lounge where they could play on one console together. I've worked at a game company, and we didn't have consoles at each desk, and the lounge where we played games brought everyone together better.

I really don't understand this mentality... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511177)

We have employee monitoring software in use and need to track the usage of the console. So, it seems best to use a capture card along with some type of viewer utility. This would allow us to have a record of when and how long the console was used, in case anyone else in management ever has a problem.

Must be because I'm European, but this just seems so absurd to me. Why don't you just switch off your monitoring software for 30 minutes per day, I'm sure many people will appreciate it more than being allowed to play on a console while being monitored.

Gracefully? (1)

Eadwacer (722852) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511217)

I'd suggest pink leotards and toe shoes.

MIS Manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25511225)

"Long story short, I am the MIS Manager / Lead Architect for a blue collar non-tech company."

And it sounds like you're doing a fine job MISManaging!

Tech Support Guy (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#25511253)

Integrating video games into the work day: A great idea! [break.com]

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