The best geeks are unashamed, even proud, of their geekhood. As a technical writer in web hosting company, I’m just one more happy geek in the sea, lost in the tides of Linux, Magento, and obscure quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
To be fair, I’m a writer first, and a tech second, or perhaps even fifth. I work with nearly every team and learn something new nearly every day. The upswing of this is I know about 70 percent of our faces and names. The challenging part is my technical knowledge rates better in “breadth” than “depth.”
Building a Multi-Talented Team
Job challenges aside, this cross-team familiarity is a tremendous asset. Like many companies, we use an instant-messaging tool, email, and other means of digital communication. The ability to connect a name to a face provides an extra incentive to help each other out. It’s easier to ignore Joebob (Needy) McGreeblies when I know him only as pixels on a screen, rather than someone I’ve met.
Of course, that assumes Bob and I actually liked each other when we met. Maybe Joebob is socially awkward, or maybe I stayed up too late watching Westworld for the second time and yawned every 30 seconds during our conversation. Or, maybe we just work in web hosting, and both of the extroverts already found their way to Sales.
Sometimes meeting these strangers isn’t enough. In a company of mostly tech-minded introverts, how does one encourage them to rub elbows?
It’s a myth that geeks don’t enjoy the company of others. They just tend to prefer the company of other geeks, which is why I organize Games for Geeks (GFG) at Nexcess. We meet on the third Friday of every month for company-supplied pizza and a geeky board game or three. These aren’t “party games,” these are games that make you either think of ways to cooperate or ways to conquer.
Team-Building Without Team-Building in Mind
Mind you, GFG wasn’t devised to be a team-building activity. I was just looking for a way to add board games to my busy schedule of writing, children, and subservience to my feline captors.
It’s just a fortunate side-effect. We’re a small group, but games bring together people spanning teams that normally don’t interact much: System Operations, Support, Software Development, and Billing.
I didn’t stop to appreciate this perk until recently. As I said earlier, my role as technical writer spans nearly every team, but some teams don’t naturally interact all that much. GFG gives these teams a reason to do so without feeling contrived or “required.” Participation is voluntary… but
FUN IS MANDATORY
Except it’s not, of course. I’ve found the most reliable way to get people to attend is just to be “the best geek” I can. Jump in with both feet, sound like a borderline lunatic, sprinkle a dash of cheerleader, and be personable. I’m not outgoing by nature, but I can fake it if it means I can get my game on.
It’s not even exclusive to people identifying as “geek.” There’s no litmus test, no threshold for admission The geek-curious are welcome, and we always appreciate new blood. In past months, we’ve hosted spouses, neighbors, family members, and sometimes just co-workers with a grudge against zombies or cosmic evil.
Ultimately, it’s just about sharing light-hearted fun in an intellectual activity while eating far too much pizza and not nearly enough veggies. Not a hard sell for anyone that’s curious about games in which we:
- Survive armageddon in End of the Line, a post-apocalyptic tale of family survival, radioactive zombies, and fuel shortages. Just because life is brutal, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!
- Team up to take down the ancient horror slumbering beneath the city in Arkham Horror, even if we succeed only in annoying the Great Old One and are devoured like buzzing mosquitoes.
- Choose sides in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Flick ‘Em Up, a game where the white hats only win if they shoot straight and stay cool. Regrettably, the good guys in our game did neither.
GFG has run more or less every month since October 2016. We’re small – about a half dozen regulars and handful of “occasionals” – but it’s one more way to have fun in a “work setting” while forgetting we’re in a work setting. Added to other company social events like trivia, softball, charity events, and perhaps even a company Grill-Off, it creates another vector for shared experiences.
“Shared” doesn’t even have to mean “cooperative.” Plotting against your coworkers in a low-stakes environment makes for a good laugh, and everyone’s content to leave past squabbles on the table. Well… except for me, against a certain person by the name of “Alan,” who stole my family’s grain in a game of Agricola and left us with no recourse but to eat our family pig, Mr. Ribs.
You know who you are, “Alan.” Better be watching your back during that next game of Zombicide. Sure, it’s cooperative, but accidents happen…
Our technical writer of 4 years and counting, Jay wrangles our Knowledge Library and occasionally dabbles in blogging, softball, and being the second loudest person on his team.Posted in: Nexcess