Years of observing employees playing computer games on company time finally led computer consultant Michael Moles to build a software program to put an end to all this funny business. "I saw literally 20 to 30 hours wasted each day at these companies," marvels the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, entrepreneur. "Games that would start at lunch would continue until 2 or 3 in the afternoon."
Started in 1995, Moles' second business, Wards Creek Software Inc., recently released GameWarden, a program that locks up Doom and Descent games for specified time periods. While he initially envisioned an application that cracks down solely on network game-playing, the software, available in Windows 95 and Windows NT versions, also contains features for monitoring or restricting local game use and Internet browsing.
GameWarden can serve as a watchful eye by simply furnishing reports on individual use, or can offer more advanced controls that confine game-playing and Internet surfing to, say, lunch time or after-hours only, or shut off problem users cold turkey if needed.
The 36-year-old entrepreneur insists he's no (joy)stick-in-the-mud: He's just as likely to fritter away hours at a game of solitaire as the rest of us. Yet, at the same time, he also sees real merit in giving companies--and employees--the tools to keep the fun and games within limits. Says Moles, "I don't want to stop people from playing games, but I do want to give them the ability to control them."