HR Strange But True!
August 24, 2007

Stress relief at work has risen to a whole new level thanks to two employees who decided friendly competition and a little humiliation make for a much better office game.

When you work at a successful image hosting site like Flickr (part of Yahoo!), it takes a great deal of innovation to come up with effective stress-busting techniques. While a more conventional method such as taking a walk might work, John Allspaw and Dunstan Orchard wouldn't settle for ordinary.

"I needed to hit John repeatedly from ten feet away, and apparently he needed to hit me as well." Orchard told CBS5 about their new game. Started by the two after discovering a few left over promotional beach balls, Faceball is the latest "office game" sweeping its way across the country.

Played with two people sitting 10 feet apart in their office chairs, one person takes aim and tries to hit the other in the face. Direct hits score a point; "hair whiffs" or misses end a turn and score no points. No dodging or scooting forward in the chair is allowed.

The creators have launched a website dedicated to the game, which is gradually building a following as people begin posting photos and videos of their own Faceball experiences.

Explicit rules, along with a disclaimer, include "don't play near anything breakable, such as a china cabinet or someone with osteoporosis" and "remove glasses and hats before playing (you shouldn't be wearing a hat indoors anyway)." The site includes printable score boards along with its tutorial and instructions on how to handle a shootout (one commenter suggested it be called a face-off) in the event of a tie.

Orchard claims the game is safe, arguing that a beach ball is one of the safest items that can be thrown at the office.

How is it then that all of this goes unnoticed by management? Allspaw is management, and as a co-creator of Faceball, he sees it as a great way to blow off some steam during a stressful workday.

"In general I think that the purpose of the game is to relieve work stress and replace it with humiliation and embarrassment," Allspaw told CBS5. And while we here at HR Strange But True! have yet to hop on the Faceball bandwagon, we think this is the kind of thing to run by a supervisor before you start throwing beach balls at your co-workers.

Sources: and CBS5.

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