Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Office Space

After yesterday's more serious ranting, today I felt the need for a bit of levity.  I will warn you in advance that this is going to be (mostly) non-WoW related.  However, I think you can all get a chuckle out of it and that makes it worth the words.  Which is more than I can say for these these examples of wasted effort.

The back story here is that there are two things I do on a pretty much daily basis.  One is receive mass company emails.  The other is browse job postings (I need out!).  Both can find their origins in the Human Resource departments.  Now, if you're an HR person, I'm going to go ahead and apologize now.  I totally respect what you do, really, and maybe you're the lone shining star in an otherwise polluted sky, but I'm going let you in on something: you work with a lot of idiots.  At least half of any HR department has to be made up of morons and slackers, by my calculations (I'm sure Gevlon's is higher).  How else do you explain the crap that comes out of there?  It's not all bad - some of the acronyms are really creative - and maybe a lot of it is a function of being given totally vague and inappropriate direction by management, but I see things almost daily that make me shake my head sadly and die a little inside.  Such as...

This was from a public job posting, in the description: “We are seeking an Value Added Engineer to be responsible for increasing productivity by maximizing customer and end user perceived value at the lowest possible cost.”

Really?  An Value Added Engineer.  I think you need an Value Added Grammarian, or a VAG.  (I totally want that title, what achievement do I need?)  Do they offer degrees in Value Addition?  BSVA?  Is there anyone who admits to be an Value Subtracting Engineer?  And I also find it baffling that they only want you to maximize the "perceived" value.  Not the actual value.  No, it's all about the gear score here, folks.

This sort of thing makes me want to have a special resume with gross grammatical and spelling errors to send.  Don't wanna stand out too much, you know.  This is the Corporate America Guild.  Individualism gets you a perma-ban.  Literacy, only 48 hours.  You gotta put in the time and effort if you wanna make Officer.

Honestly, the more I look at job postings, the more I think they're written by monkeys who hit random buttons of corporate keywords together to form a mostly coherent sentence.  It's one step from illiteracy, one giant leap to Shakespeare.

That first one was a lot of fail packed into a sentence.  My company takes a different approach.  We like to spread the fail out so that there's plenty of it to go around.  In our defense, there don't seem to be many grammatical errors in this one.  It's just a shining example of "looks good on paper" (and "sounds funny when related to gaming").

You see, what happens is from time to time, the HR department gets a directive shoved up their ass.  Like "Be more green" or "Encourage workplace productivity through positive reinforcement".  Or, in this case, "Cure the Fatties."  Sorry, what they really said in the meeting was "to promote health awareness and physical fitness."  I'm sure the rising cost of health care never factored into the discussion.  I'm sure it was a saint-like desire to have us all be healthier and junk.  Healthy people are productive people, right?  Not that this is about productivity either.  No, we're here for you.

In any case, what they came up with was a "program" where you use "life points" to earn "rewards".  Sounds to me a lot like an MMORPG, and we all know how silly games are.  However, in a stark divergence from gaming, LP is awarded not through eating, but by doing "anything from moderate activities like walking to more intense ones like running."  So the casuals will walk and the hardcore will run.  INTENSE.  Are there factions in this game?  PvP?  Or is it just PvF (Player vs. Fat)? 

I know, this sounds like it might be tough, but fortunately we "will receive tools and support to help you reach your goal. There are also fun prizes and events throughout the program to help keep you motivated."  Loot! ... like shoes?  They can be tools and prizes!  No, no... the loot table is... what is the loot table?  It doesn't say.  And trust me, shoes are far too expensive for players of our caliber.

Oh wait, a little further down we find out more about the competitive aspects.  There's a top loot for the most LP accumulated.  A runner-up loot for second LP.  And, of course, a random drop loot for participation.  What would any competition be with out the participation ribbons?  What are these phat lootz?  "Gift cards of your choice!"  Boy, I hope I can choose Coldstone Creamery.  Loots options are pretty BA. 

I feared a rather complex combat system until the next paragraph reassured me of the simplicity:  "It could be as simple as taking a walk at lunchtime, or using the stairs instead of the elevator. It could be going to the gym after work, or training for a 10K run. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. You set personal goals, then you work as part of a team to achieve them. And you don’t have to be a marathon runner to get in shape. The thing to remember is that it’s important to set realistic goals and to look for ways to stay motivated." 

So, when I get Eric to push me up the stairs after my Bison Burger at lunch, we're both winners!  The elevators are broken anyways.  I wonder what the roles and classes are?  Could one of the encounters be Walking To Your Car In The Parking Lot?  Because that's an encounter of Indiana Jonesian epicness, let me tell you.  If your parking lot is anything like ours, you know what I'm talking about.  It's like a platformer sidescroller mixed with a FPS.  There are black pits of death.  Water traps.  Froggeresque dodging of the managers who speed through rows in their BMWs.  Random obstacles.  The occasional world boss spawn.  It's a pretty tricky instance.

And are there veteran rewards?  I mean, I'm worried about finding those ways to stay motivated.  Oh wait, forgot about the loot already.  Focus on the Creamery drop.  That'll get me through the grind.

"That “sweet spot” of fitness makes all the difference in maintaining your energy level and managing stress." No, that's my morning coffee spawn, and, unfortunately, the pot was completely glitched out this morning.  I blame the wifetank, it's her job to set the coffee maker alarm.  Speaking of sweet spots, I think someone brought donuts in today... 

So my next logical question is about the scaling of these LPs.  How does that all work? "Your success can be measured in points. Points have been used for decades to help us accomplish goals – like earning free travel through frequent flyer programs, or being rewarded for accomplishing workplace objectives. The program uses points as a way for you to measure your commitment to yourself."  

Can I measure my failure too?  Also, I'm glad we're using the tried and true "points system" instead of going with something more modern and innovative like "heart rate" or a scale.  Furthermore, the workplace "reward points" must have been from my previous job.  I keep looking for these reward points and keep getting told that the Economy Boss is wiping them.  On the other hand, I guess my previous job was school, and there they gave me letters to measure my success.  Oh, and the much vaunted Gold Star.  I think I'm going to measure my commitment to myself by the number of pints of ice cream I can eat tonight.  Eating 100 wings in a sitting is commitment.  Walking up the stairs is just inconvenient.  

But more about the scaling.  Scaling is srs bzns.  "In the program, each minute of physical activity is equal to 1 Life Point. But depending upon how your company chooses to run the campaign, you could earn bonus points for other activities, such as attending a seminar or agreeing to evaluate the program at its conclusion."  So you're telling me I can level up my activity skill by doing non-active things.  Woot!  Then again, seminars are pretty trying.  Is there a single player campaign or is it all multiplayer?

How about leveling? "Choose a goal that will take you to your next level: stretch a bit but make it realistic. The Life Points Log does the number-crunching for you. It’s that easy." Whew, I'm glad I won't have to do any maths.  Can I get addons for my Log UI?  I might need the one that alerts me when I aggro a bowl of cookies and cream.  The cookies should work like a pot to replenish my LP though, right?  And there they go with that realism again.

Still more about scaling? "As a participant in the program, you earn 1 Life Point for each minute of daily activity. If you’re fairly inactive, yet do 45 minutes of yard work on a given day, you’re still entitled to 45 points." So it looks like there are two types of activity: daily and physical.  I wonder if they function as trade offs where buffing one debuffs the other.  That would be an interesting mechanic.  Likely they just function like BMI and Lbs though, being essentially the same thing for most talents, just measured differently.

I wonder if one of the drops will be a lawn mower.  Like maybe it's the random drop, otherwise, you won't be geared properly for the Lawn Instance.  Sucks when they expect you to gear up on your own. 

Fortunately, after I waded through the three page description of what I thought was a rather simple game, but turned out to be incredibly complex, they reassured me at the end.  "The most rewarding part of the program is knowing that with a little self-discipline, you can achieve your goals and continue to reach for higher levels."  So it's more of a sandbox game without a level cap.  There might be a lot of grind involved, but really only as much as you want.  Sure you can "win", but everyone defines "winning" differently (except with respect to the loot drops), so everyone's a winner.  After all: "It’s up to you."

All in all, I'm not sure the free to play model is going to work for me here.  I suspect there will be micro-transactions down the road to unlock the full game.  Despite that "it’s as easy as getting off that comfy chair behind your desk," it seems to be a direct conflict with the other game I'm playing: Work. The bosses there aren't nearly as forgiving.  Oh, and this chair isn't really all that damn comfy.

Brought to you by the Warlock Council on Obesity.


  1. That was an absolute delight of an article to read. Easily one of my favorite from you.

    I was once recruited (in a previous job) into the HR department because I was one of the best trainers the company had. I declined the offer and stayed in Accounting (yes, I did accounting & training at the same time). My job is all about numbers and profit and I don't have to hide my motives, make excuses, or color my language to not hurt the "fatties" feelings. If your department sucks, I can say "you suck". If you're fat I can command HR to lower costs somehow. The problem is I can't control HR, so instead of being able to tell the company's employees "Please lose weight, you're ruining us financially" I'm left to join in the point program along with everyone else. That is, until Friday when we have a potluck catered from The Cheesecake Factory.

    HR people follow rules, and one of those rules is to use as vague as language as possible. If they deviate from that mode, they are demoted to Customer Service Rep.

  2. :-) thanks. I was feeling snarky today.

    And mmmm, Cheesecake Factory.

  3. O please stop. Laughing hurts. Nice one apart from your stories the highlight of my catch up on the last two months of your blog ( so far).

    Keep it up
    Shaman turned lock from EU-Karazhan