Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lady Penelope calling...

This week has been one of reminiscing with former work colleagues as the final remaining member of our original IT team has been retrenched. We have all gone on to various other IT roles but have very fond memories of what a great team we built in our time working together.

The company we worked for  could not really be called a 'great' employer, but we had one of the best teams I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. We had fun, enjoyed each other's company, did outstanding work and provided a great level of service to the business.

Lady Penelope was my game handle
The thing we really had sorted was feeling that we were part of a team that cooperated and worked together to get things done. The key to that feeling of belonging was a first-person shooter, multi-player computer game.

Somewhere along the line one of us found Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory, found a bit of real estate on a server and set up a game. After the first evening of shooting at each other, learning our way around the maps and general mayhem and mirth, we were hooked.

This became our 5pm fix, as soon as the little hand clicked on to ET time, the server was started and the fun began. We all adopted personas in the game, I was Lady Penelope (reliving my Thunderbirds obsession from childhood), we had Superenigmatix (an obvious Asterix and Obelix fan) Disco Inferno (none of us can call him anything but Disco to this day, I had to ask what his name actually was so I could add him on LinkedIn), Chief, Chewbyka...

But, what to the outside world seemed like real Geeky stuff, actually helped us build a team that knew how to work together and I would venture to say was probably a better team building exercise than any weekend retreat could ever have been.

I guess husbands, wives and significant others probably wondered why we had to work so late, so often! It was very easy to lose track of time, and someone was always ready to say 'just one more map'. I do have to admit that we were 'occasionally' tempted to start up the game server before the magic 5pm clicked round.

One evening we managed to persuade a vendor to join in the fun with us from their own site in Auckland. This was a vendor who had let us down consistently and I have to say that we took great delight in totally annihilating them that night...for some reason they were never very keen to come back and play again!

If you look carefully you will see the
ET time mark at 5pm
The lesson I am trying to get across here is that when you play together you do stay together, the understanding that we were able to get about each other from playing a silly game cannot be underestimated. Whether it is going bowling, rock climbing, golfing, or like us playing a computer game, taking part in events as a team where you need to work together, understand how the other team members interact and work WILL make you a better team at work. What seems like a bit of mindless fun can have far reaching benefits.

We certainly didn't start playing ET to improve the way we worked, we did it to escape from work, but the team spirit this game created in our department was extremely valuable. Not sure that the company ever understood it, but they certainly reaped the rewards from us shooting and blowing up each other night after night.

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