Only about a third of more than 1,000 respondents to a Network World online survey believe it's always wrong to use company equipment to host private video game sessions for groups of players.
The rest of those registering an opinion are OK with the practice, although some approve only with caveats.
The survey has been running for the past week along with a story headlined: "On the company dime: Rogue game server admins tell all." It features four anonymous network professionals explaining and defending their use of company gear - usually without explicit permission - to host multiplayer video game sessions.
Respondents were asked: "Games on company servers are?"
A total of 1,087 people have registered an opinion. Here are the results:
OK only with permission: 17.11% (186 votes)
OK if they cause no harm: 36.98% (402 votes)
OK if you don't get caught: 11.13% (121 votes)
What are you nuts? Never. 34.77% (378 votes)
Because the respondents are self-selected, the results of online polls are not considered scientific.
In addition to Network World's regular readership, a significant number of people who read this story arrived at it from Digg, a social bookmarking site whose audience skews young. Another slice of potential survey participants was directed here from Blue News, a gamer site that helped us solicit the volunteers who were interviewed in the story.
Comments left on the story reflect the divergent views held by IT professionals regarding the practice of hosting video games on company equipment.
"It is amazing to me how people can rationalize and justify bad behavior," writes one. "I would fire them in a heartbeat."
More representative of the consensus opinion was the following:
"Literally, since the dawn of computers there have been system admins playing games on them. The desire for better games and game performance has driven innovation in the industry. As one of the sysadmins stated (in the story), it's a great way for his techs to stay sharp.
"Is it unethical to play games using company resources? Yes it is, but so is surfing the Web, using Facebook, checking personal email, reading a book, taking a nap and hundreds of other non-work related things employees do every day. ... Most gaming takes place during off hours because IT folks do a LOT of their work during off hours. If you've ever sat through an OS or firmware patch or upgrade, you know it can be hours of watching dots crawl across the screen. How is playing a game any different than sitting there reading a book or watching TV?"
Paul McNamara is a Network World news editor and writes Buzzblog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/buzzblog.
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