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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How A New Job Is Like Farmville

A new player is drawn into the game with positive feedback, easily achievable goals and instant rewards. A new employee (if the employer is worth anything) experiences positive feedback (we're so glad you're here), easily achievable goals (you'll be watching a training film today) and instant rewards (why don't you take a break while I finish this?).

Somewhere around level 23, the FV player notices things aren't quite so peachy positive. Rewards are fewer and farther between. Mastery takes longer. Sometimes leveling up gets you nothing except one level closer to your goal of a level where you can plant or buy something you want.

A new employee cycles through "new" to "trained." This doesn't necessarily mean the employee is ready for any challenge. Generally, it means she has a lot of information she can use and a supervisor close by if she gets too befuddled. Depending on the job, it takes a little time to reach this stage, but it generally begins two to four weeks after hire. The glow wears off as "doing your job" replaces "good job." This can be a point of discouragement for a new employee, just like it is for a new player.

However, in FV, the real play begins around level 50. If you can slog through the Dead Zone, you'll rediscover your joy in the game and settle in for the long haul.

For the new employee, this happens, too. A season or four illustrate the general expectations of the work. Some things will change; some remain constant. Competence will increase, although so might a sense of boredom. Mastery of the skill allows for more time between practice sessions. Other positives include a better sense of coworkers and work environment. The pluses and minuses become more obvious. If pluses are greater, the employee continues in the job, satisfied. If minuses are greater, the employee looks for employment elsewhere, just like the disillusioned FV player seeks satisfaction in another game.

This is day two of my new job. Everything is shiny and new, but FV teaches me to expect a Dead Zone ahead. FV also teaches me that Dead Zone is neither endless nor useless. It is the time of tempering, where skills are polished and mettle tested. Without it, I cannot gain the higher levels I wish to reach.

Until I get there, though, I'm going to enjoy the easy stuff. 

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