Being able to explode your boss with a rocket launcher is bringing the office closer together, says Toby.
By Toby McCasker on November 13, 2013 at 9:34 am
Sometimes I put some pantaloons on and I go to work in an office environment. Not often, but sometimes. It’s an alright office. The people are nice enough. They wear shirts and ties and prim frocks, and talk in a quaint way that includes phrases such as “Let’s take this conversation offline,” ostensibly to “cut through the noise” and “start warming the room to the idea.”
It’s a business and business is good, because these people do business. That is, until, the clock strikes a certain time every Friday.
And I feel the boss’s hands gripping my shoulders and I have been startled. He says, “Tobes? Tobes?” and I take my headphones off, sort of shaking. “Tobes? Do you know what time it is?” And those eyes, they are manic and oceanic. I spend an embarrassing few seconds figuring out the analogue clock above my desk, which is a communal desk in the corner of the greater office dubbed Little Italy because all us weird mixed race renegades split from the mainland.
“Uh, it’s about fou-” I finally work out, and this. Is. Not. Correct. The boss Platoons his arms into the air and the right answer is inbound:
“IT’S QUAKE O’CLOCK, MUTHA (STRING OF EXPLETIVES)”
And sometimes he will throw whatever quarter-empty afternoon libation he has fixed himself furiously into the nearest wall, and it will smash, and the emotionally detached woman in sales will laugh very uncomfortably. Could I be exaggerating for the sake of comedy? If my sometime employers are reading this, the answer is yes.
(The answer is yes, OK, gosh. Do you have to take the fun out of everything, reality?)
The shy accounts woman is a different person during Quake O’Clock. She becomes a savage beast who will not accept defeat, as none of us will even though the stakes are “lol respawn go again.” Quake O’Clock is an office-wide game of Quake Live. It’s free and is still easy to play when you are so inhumanly tanked on cheap Sauvignon Blanc you are loudly pronouncing it as “Saw-vig-non Blank” and this is somehow the funniest thing anyone has ever done.
Initially devised as a team-building exercise cum end-of-week reward, Quake O’Clock has become much more than that. It has become a stethoscope on the hearts of my co-workers who must wear game faces when they are not gaming every day so that high-powered business deals may be brokered.
You forget, sometimes, that men and women at work are men and women. To Quake O’Clock is to know the person in the for-work clothes. This simple, free piece of online FPS-thing lights up their human conditions. There is swearing and there is frustration, there is more swearing and there is abject triumph. No one is spared. It is a period of great equality in a place of unspoken yet strict heirarchy. The boss is terrible at this game, and he is killed a lot. When work begins anew every Monday, tensions are waylaid, built throughough the week, and then put to the overpowered machine gun again on Friday.
Maybe even more than that, Quake O’Clock does well to highlight this very important aspect of people: For whatever negative quality someone might have that rubs others the wrong way – and this can be amplified so, so much by a cloistered office environment – it is often a byproduct of or even necessitated by their virtues. Vice-versa, too.
Passion can be loud and intrusive, but it is a person who gives a damn about things; detachment can be uncomfortable and strange, but it is a person who is considering things more deeply than you might ever understand.