Everyone knows that techies love "Dungeons & Dragons," where they can prowl the bowels of a castle and cast spells on clueless managers, er, mages. After all, it's just a game.
Or is it? Many tech staffers are also hard-core PC gamers. For good reason: In virtual worlds like "World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King" and "Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword," you can show off your awesome mental powers and flex the most feared fingers in the universe. You can hone the problem-solving skills that make you good at IT, take out frustrations from your day-to-day work, and celebrate the technology that you so love.
So what, exactly, does a kick-ass shooter game like "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" or the beautifully rendered role-playing game "Fallout 3" really say about tech life? Well, saddle up your Mechano-strider and watch as the Blade of Vaulted Secrets carves deeply into the tech-worker psyche.
The techie-gamer relationship is rooted in "Civilization"
Ah, the early days of "Civilization," or "Civ" in tech-speak. This classic Sid Meier game ran on PC DOS -- no games ran on Windows 3 in the early 1990s -- which basically locked out mere mortals from playing it.
That is, you needed to know how to reconfigure autoexec.bat and config.sys to load extended memory and mouse drivers so that "Civ" could run. "You had to know technology to even play games," says George Jones, editorial director of GamePro, an InfoWorld sister publication. "Back then there was no Internet resource to help you, and so you had had to figure it out on your own. It was crazy."
When PC games finally reached the masses, thanks largely to Windows 95, techies were already masters of "Doom," "Quake," "Counterstrike," and "World of Warcraft." (Let the jocks play "Madden NFL" -- why throw a football for a touchdown when you can toss a flash grenade through a window and storm the door for a beat-down?)
Today, Jones figures more than half of all hard-core PC gamers work in tech. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist specializing in the gamer lifestyle, agrees: "There's a large overlay between people who game and people who chose technology for work," he says, adding, "Some people can read people, others can understand … a computer."