Our company had a big problem with people not taking our mandatory online training seriously. Even though the higher-ups try to stress how important it is, people will usually flip through a 4-hour online training class in 10 minutes.

My boss knows that I'm an amateur game designer in my free time, so he asked if I could do something to make the training modules "funner". So I spent a little while turning the training into a fun little flash game. It's no Red Dead 2, but I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. For added fun, I created a leader board to keep track of high scores in the company. (The high scores are a combination of fun little gameplay and being able to answer training questions).

The training module ended up being extremely popular. People are spending so much time playing the game and trying to get on the leaderboard. Now the four-hour training is taking on average three days for people to complete. (Considering how mundane most of their jobs are, I don't blame them). Also, a lot of people take the training multiple times. From the logs, I can see that one person spent 13 business days (8 hours/day) doing the training.

My boss called me into his office today and chewed me out over writing something "too fun". He said that upper management is really mad at this decline in productivity in the company, and that it's my fault. I left his office so freaking mad that I had to take a walk outside to cool down.

I feel like I'm being criticized for doing my assigned task too well. But am I being unfair here? How can I patch things up without admitting any sort of fault?

As a side note, the average test score from this training module is now 96%, up from the previous year of 68%.

  • 4
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 3:17
  • I worked for a business with a "no games" rule in the code-of-conduct and would discipline employees if they were caught playing games. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 23:06

20 Answers 20


You did exactly what was instructed, and took scores from "barely passing" to mastery.

Emphasize that. If your boss won't bend, offer to take the game down.

Meanwhile, you may want to update your resume, taking scores from 68% to 96% is something that gives you HUGE bragging rights.

I would also suggest seriously thinking about making educational games and/or trainers a direction you can take your career path.

This is not something you should be scolded over or feel bad about. This is an amazing achievement. If your current employer doesn't appreciate you for this, others certainly will.


This is a management issue.
What happened with your game is a phenomenon called Gone Horribly Right There was no way to foresee the wild popularity and viral nature of your game, and you should accept no responsibility for it.

Counter any management pushback with suggestions that a lockout be placed after a time limit with a maximum of "X" hours, and any access beyond that require a grant of access from a manager.

Again, this is not something you did wrong, but something that management failed to limit.

Special thanks to Caffieneaddiction and jwenting for their useful comments.

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    @CaffeineAddiction or a system where access to the training module needs to be grants by a superior (department head, HR, project lead, whatever) and then gets activated for say a number of hours before new approval needs to be obtained.
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 12:28
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    @jpmc26 there is that too, but developing educational games that people want to play? There's gold in them thar hills!\ Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 17:47
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    It's also a really good interview story for a game dev job!
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 3:37
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    @brian While it has elements of a good game dev job story, it sets off many alarm bells in the heads of hiring managers. The most wanted co-workers take responsibility and are quick to apologize. They do not ask "How can I patch things up without admitting any sort of fault?"
    – Daedalon
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 16:45
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    @Eric I believe you are reading far too much into this. Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 14:45

While it's not immediately your fault that people are spending too much time on the game, as the developer, you could help the situation.

Turn off the scoreboard server/disable the game entirely for now. Go to your boss and show the increased test scores to show what benefit it has brought. Work with them to create a middle ground where employees are still engaged but don't spend unnecessary amounts of time goofing off.

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    What do you think about adding a time limit to the training? Or only allowing employees to take it once? Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:45
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    Concur - try leaving the training app up for a week per year maximum.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 20:10
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    Alternatively, disable the training for someone once they pass it. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:11
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    I don’t see how OP is in any way at fault for employees failing to responsibly manage their priorities. Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 3:30
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    The OP shouldn't do any of that without management approval, or at management direction, given that they pitched a fit. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 13:38

I don't think you've correctly identified the problem. You weren't "too good" at your job, you simply performed a task without specific requirements. There were no guard rails. I don't think this is inherently your fault, but there are definitely steps you can take to avoid this.

Focusing on your successes and trying to pass this off as something to brag about doesn't seem appropriate - your boss has a legitimate complaint that is ignored by that approach. Yes, you raised scores, but you also caused efficiency to drop terribly. Employees are spending time playing your training game instead of doing their real jobs. Perhaps this isn't "your fault" but it's certainly a legitimate complaint for your employer to have.

Where does that leave us? That's pretty clear: This is a classic case of poorly specified goals - the terms of your work weren't detailed enough for you to be successful. Did your boss specifically ask you to make a game that people would only play for 4 hours, instead of stretching it to 3 days? Probably not. So, although he is legitimately angry, it's not because of deliberate action on your part.

sf02, Johns305, and others are focusing on steps you can take now to help rectify the problem that already exists, but there are clearly also steps you can take preemptively in the future to keep this from happening again. When your boss has tasks like this, ask guiding questions to help frame out quantitative ways you can ensure your work product is appropriate. In this case, it seems like the obvious question could have been,

"You want the training to be more fun - how can we know that we've met that goal?"

  • 48
    This is helpful advice. I still think the environment is toxic, but this is definitely solid advice in general.
    – bob
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:59
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    Plus what other employees do is not at all the OP's fault; that's what managers are hired for. A better mgmt response would be "wow you did a great job, but we need to figure out how to limit play time; people are playing this non-stop!" not "you've ruined the company you awful employee ((for doing what I told you to do...))". Basically I don't think it's at all OP's fault as described, but I agree that OP can improve things in the future by taking this type of approach.
    – bob
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:06
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    The problem with the situation is that the requirements for the project weren't clearly defined. That is neither OP's fault nor his problem. We can talk about how in the future he should try to anticipate the project's needs, but that comes with its own set of risks for if he anticipates wrong. At the end of the day, OP is an employee, and as such it is their job is to do what they are told to do. So yes, OP did nothing wrong - the only failure in this situation is on the part of OP's boss, so the bulk of "figuring out a way to improve future situations" is their responsibility, not OP's.
    – Abion47
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:39
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    I understand the mentality of taking every setback as a learning experience, but it isn't really productive to say "learn from what you did wrong" when you didn't do anything wrong. OP did a stellar job and the problem was something that was entirely outside OP's list of concerns and responsibilities. Sometimes the only lesson that can be learned is to reconsider who you want to be signing your paychecks.
    – Abion47
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:46
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    @Abion47 - "The problem with the situation is that the requirements for the project weren't clearly defined. That is neither OP's fault nor his problem." Thank you, that was my point! But with respect to your other comments: where did I ever say "learn from what you did wrong?" Nowhere! Again, let me reinforce: I don't think the OP did anything wrong. BUT that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn! The problem with the "learn from your mistakes" mantra is that it forces binary right/wrong thinking and excludes opportunity.
    – dwizum
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 18:59

The way to patch things up is to offer solutions for the problems that upper management, your boss, and yourself have identified with the new training. If people are spending too much time, restrict it in a way that they can still complete the training. Show your boss that you are dependable to provide solutions to problems.

Also remember that there is nothing that you need to admit to. An employee choosing to spend 13 days playing a game is the employee's problem not yours.

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    Why look for validation from your manager? He got chewed out by his bosses, and is looking for a scape goat. Very unprofessional, but! Why not make the game better...take into account these new backlog items. Your boss is your customer. You game requires improvements. They were not expressed constructively, so...plenty of customers are worse than your boss.
    – paulj
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 15:23
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    @paulj OP asked how to patch things up, whether the manager is just looking for a scapegoat or not the manager did originally assign OP the task and there were unintended and correctable issues that arose even though the task was accomplished ( getting people to do the training and better scores ). OP can say "not my problem that those people waste their time" or he can work towards a solution to continue to improve the training.
    – sf02
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 15:40
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    As stated in my comments - "You game requires improvements." and "plenty of customers are worse than your boss". That is why I up-voted your answer. The questioner needs to understand requests and critiques will not always be polite, but it does not discount the validity of the request or critique.
    – paulj
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 15:43
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    The easiest solution by far is to simply restrict how many times a person may attempt the course. Once that limit is reached they are left with their best overall score and are no longer allowed to play the game. scores go up and people can't keep wasting time on the game. Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 16:00

First off, people skimming through training modules is...(shhh, don't say anything)...very common. That was never your problem.

As for the behavior of Boss, that's may not be entirely your problem. You were assigned a task and the outcome was not what management expected.

Here's you major decision point, did Boss review and approve what you delivered? If so, then it's squarely on them. That people are playing the game they approved too much is their problem.

In this case, with a little emotion as possible, tell Boss:

The training game is functioning as approved. What changes would you like? Here are some suggestions..."

If they object, don't press the issue, just get to the agreed solution as quickly as possible. Arguing with them will get you nowhere.

Or, did you ship the new training game without any management feedback?

In this case, the consequence is at least shared by you and your Boss. They should have reviewed it and you should have made them review it. Therefore:

Wow, I didn't see that happening...I can change it so they can only score during the first 4 hours. I can do that by end of day (or Monday or whenever).

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    Another suggestion I would add as a possible way of improving the game is to introduce a clock and reduce the points available by every second of game play. If you do the math and design it correctly, you can reward people who complete the training in 3 hours while still allowing people to get decent passing scores in 5 hours. And limit people to a set number of attempts on the same module so you can strictly control the MAX time anyone can spend on the training. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:02

You aren't being punished for "doing your job too well". You're being punished for optimizing your work for one metric without taking into account other relevant metrics. Your ultimate job is to create value for the company. Any particular tasks you are assigned should be considered to be guidance towards, not replacement of, that goal. If you interpreted "make this process funner" as "prioritize making this process funner to the exclusion of all other considerations" rather than "increase the value for the company of focusing on how fun this process is", then you weren't doing your job. When you're assigned a task, you should, to the extent that it is feasible, consider how it fits into the wider picture, and consider not just the metrics that you are explicitly given, but how it will affect the company in general. If you're assigned the task of reducing shoplifting rates in a store, simply shutting the store down will comply with the literal parameters of the task, but such a strategy would be unlikely to be commended.

You either didn't foresee, or disregarded as irrelevant, the wider effects of your work, and this is a valid basis of criticism. How much blame lies with you for creating a program that is decreasing productivity, and how much lies with management for allowing it, is debatable. Your discussions with your boss should be around expectations as to how much responsibility lies with whom to take wider considerations into account. You seem to have operated under the idea that you were to simply optimize for the explicit metric "funner" and it was your boss' responsibility to ensure that this optimization's effect on other metrics was acceptable, while your boss thinks that you should have considered this yourself. If you submitted this to your boss, and your boss implemented it, then you should have a discussion with them about what submitting something means (does it mean "I'm taking responsibility for this", or does it mean "I'm submitting this for your consideration, and it's up to you to decide whether to implement it"?). If you implemented it directly, then it's more clearly your responsibility.

  • 4
    Throwing blame is almost never productive. Figuring out how to solve problems is. Also, asking a developer to make something "fun, but not too fun", and expecting that developer to guess how other people will react to it, are unreasonable. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 21:16
  • 1
    @DavidThornley I'm not clear on whether you're implying that my answer is "throwing blame". I tried to word it as getting more clarity, not blame. There's a difference. The OP shouldn't have an argument with their boss as to who's "to blame", they should approach it as a "There seems to have been some miscommunication. What should we do so that there's mutual clarity in the future?". And if someone is unable to make predictions (or, as you put it, "guess") as to how people will react to a program, they have no business being involved in any sort of front end. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 21:32

Two things are bugging me about the OP's question.

First, you definitely did not do your job too well. Oh, sure, the training scores are up. But productivity is down so much that upper management got involved. That's not a success story, or a project that was simply done too well. Let's say you could go back in time, make three tweaks to your game that would've made it even more enjoyable. Do you think that would've made the project even better? No - obviously no.

Second, if you're going to ever move up the ranks in development, you have to take ownership. Stop blaming a boss, or blaming coworkers playing the game instead of doing their job. Take ownership of the projects you do and the results those projects achieve. Your project failed - not because it wasn't fun, but because it killed productivity in the office. Instead of admitting to that, and figuring out ways to either fix the situation or prevent something like that from happening again, you're too worried about blaming the boss. Heck, at the end of your question you say:

How can I patch things up without admitting any sort of fault?

... which is the exact wrong attitude.

EDIT: The OP's question is almost a perfect example of Locus of Control - basically, whether you assign responsibility on things you control or things you don't control (aka, whether you take ownership on an issue or whether you blame others/luck.) Because, both parties are unambiguously at fault for aspects of what happened. The manager had oversight on the project, and even if they couldn't have foreseen the problems with a leaderboard/etc, at least they could've fixed it before someone played the game for 13 days straight. And the programmer should have never added features that encouraged multiple playthroughs on something that was only supposed to take 4 hours.

But the manager has "External Locus of Control" and blames the programmer. And as mad as the OP is, they're doing the exact same thing, by blaming the manager and trying to figure out how to move forward while not admitting any fault.

  • 15
    Management should probably be taking some responsibility for this disaster. It sounds like they are too afraid to admit blame themselves, and are instead happy to save face by pointing the finger at someone else. This is not exclusively the OPs fault, and a good manager wouldn't be blaming them, but would be doing damage control. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 20:09
  • 6
    Yes, Management should also take ownership. And if the OP was the manager, asking how to blame the underling, I'd be answering similarly (take ownership, manager: you could've prevented this with proper oversight.) But the OP is the programmer, and is trying to deny any fault in the issue, going so far as to complain they did too good of a job.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:03
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    None of this is the OPs fault, at least, not where I am. In Asia, you would be correct; they assign blame, fault, and responsibility differently than the west. Back to the west: This is a management fault. They approved and released the game, or worse, didn't maintain any involvement in it and let a random employee do whatever he wanted. The managers of the employees who spend too much time on it are also at fault for allowing their employees to spend too much time on it, or not managing their employees at all. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 13:43
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    @YetAnotherRandomUser Why on earth are people thinking that you can only assign fault to only one party? Yes, managers should've stopped their employees from playing the game for days on end. Yes, OP should NOT have put a leaderboard and infinite replays on a tool that's only supposed to take 4 hours. So unless you're going to tell me the OP's boss put a requirement that there had to be a leaderboard and infinite replay, it was a decision/idea by the OP.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 14:08
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    Good answer. Reminds me of a book I just recently read about accountability. Seems like nobody wants to be accountable for their actions or inactions in this case.
    – Cypher
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 1:00

Toxicity isn't likely to change

Honestly even if you patch things up, it's still a toxic environment (any management that responds this way is toxic), so the problem will continue to come up. It looks like lower management doesn't care about you, or about fairness, or even about your performance, but only about what upper management thinks. In other words, when they're stressed, they mistreat you. This is abuse.

My advice (which I otherwise never recommend as a first step, but which I think is warranted here): consider looking for another job, maybe one that leverages your development and design skills. You did an excellent job at making that training platform assuming the employees aren't somehow gaming the system and getting good scores without learning. A non dis-functional company will know how to use such a tool responsibly to help employees learn rather than allow them to become addicted and escape their boring jobs by playing. Your current management sounds like they lack the ability to control their employees and are taking it out on you.

Leaving a job is a personal decision that you have to make for yourself, but I would strongly recommend considering it. In my opinion it just isn't worth it to work for an abusive boss if you can avoid it.

Keep the peace and head for the door

Keep the peace at your current job while you look for another one. Start by asking your boss, "What kind of limits on play would you like me to implement?" and then implement them. But unless key details were omitted from the question, I'd simultaneously work on my exit strategy. Get out of the toxic environment if you can.

  • 4
    Why has this answer been down-voted multiple times with no reason provided? Don't be toxic - leave feedback!
    – Korthalion
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:30
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    @Korthalion - I'm not the downvoter but please don't accuse people of being 'toxic' for not commenting when downvoting, if such behavior was mandatory then the UI would make it mandatory but it doesn't and it isn't. There is a raft of reasons people don't want to be associated with their downvote, the risk of revenge voting being a common one, and they shouldn't be lambasted for making this choice. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:44
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    @RyanfaeScotland That's also fair. I would love to see SE come up with a way for feedback to be provided anonymously on heavily downvoted (which mine isn't anymore) answers so they can improve. Of course "read the guidance" is always there, but learning works best when applied to the situation at hand. Just thinking out loud. Perhaps it's wishful thinking...
    – bob
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:51
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    Thanks for the feedback guys. I don't generally recommend that because it's a very big step. But here (as described) I see management that is 1) not taking responsibility for its own duty: overseeing its employees; the game could just as easily be Candy Crush, it's mgmt responsibility to make sure employees work and don't play games, not OP; and 2) is thus mistreating an employee that shows initiative and does a good job simply because something bad resulted that fell outside of OP's responsibility as described. To me that's textbook abuse.
    – bob
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:38
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    It's not that different than getting stressed out at your job so you yell at someone innocent. It's abuse. Boss gets flak from abusive big boss and passes it on. Pretty common, but in this case it's gross abuse because it's being given in response to good work that goes above and beyond. Imagine you asked me to bake you a cake, I did, and you liked it so much that you ate the whole thing at once and got sick. You then chewed me out because you got sick, even though it was your fault not mine. That's the idea here IMO.
    – bob
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 21:41

Firstly, @RichardU's answer is right. However, here is the thing to do.

Add negative consequences for taking too long.

You drop one spot on the leaderboard for taking longer than a day (or something like this) on completing a test.

You limit the number of times the test can be taken, or maybe just drop them 5 spots for taking too long.

Add physical limits to the game.

"You have spent 2 hours on it today, that is the max allowed per day". Come back tomorrow and train again."

"You are permitted 2 test per day. Come back tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by"

"You are permitted 5 hours a week. ....."

"You have fallen behind on your work, when you have caught up your account will be re-enabled."



"User Tom has completed his training yesterday" "Pete complete his training twice this week."

The exact details should be moderated to avoid snitching, but to still alert supervisors of people abusing the sytem.

1 Email to each supervisor, for all his/her employees.

  • 1
    No need to add snitching to what started out as good suggestions
    – user90842
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 22:05
  • @GeorgeM I changed it and made it less snitchy, but the supervisor should know if the test has been completed at least.
    – cybernard
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 22:38
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    Oh yes, a nice management-style report of who passed and pie charts with basic stats should help the OP's case for sure
    – user90842
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 22:40

There are a lot of answers already, so I'm surprised nobody suggested this yet:

If people prefer your training-game to their actual jobs - why don't "gamify" (parts of) their jobs?

It sounds like your co-workers' daily jobs contain a lot of tasks they don't find very interesting. You took one of those tasks and made it so much fun that they go out of their way to do this task. And do it well. It seems extremely short-sighted to see this as a bad thing. It could be a wonderful thing if you were able to apply this to other parts of their jobs.

(Though, sadly, some companies have a "if they're happy, they're not working at full capacity"-leadership style. If you're in one of those, this probably won't get implemented.)


You're NOT being punished. You just have unintended consequences.

Once, North American was asked to build a bomber to fly subsonic (so the refueling tankers could keep up), to the edge of Soviet territory, then sprint supersonic at Mach 3 to the destination, to outrun Soviet fighter jets.

On their bomber, they discovered the engines used twice the fuel at Mach 3 but were going 4 times faster, so it was actually more fuel-efficient to fly Mach 3 all the way from Omaha to Moscow, and forget the tankers. This thing was awesome like that.

And then, the Soviets developed a surface-air missile that could go Mach 5. The project was a lost cause and was canceled.

So that's you. You did all the right things, spectacular job, and it didn't work out.

That's how it goes sometimes.

And your boss knows that, and it wasn't your job and you couldn't have reasonably foreseen what happened.

Just like the North American designers. It wasn't their job to know the Soviets were working on a missile. It was their CEO's job to know it and prepare the company for the consequences.

You should interpret his anger as anger at the situation, not at you. If he's mad at you for not anticipating this, he's wrong and he'll get over it.

It would help if you had some gating on the game so they couldn't replay content that is not constructive for them to replay. But that's a feature request.


Without knowing the specifics of how you made the training more fun, my suspicion is you did more game than gamification.

Now the 4-hour training is taking on average 3 days for people to complete.

This is a problem.

(Considering how mundane most of their jobs are, I really don't blame them)

This is a subjective value judgement.

But in the end it feels like it was more game than gamification. Learn from it.


Another thing you can do other than disabling the leaderboard or restricting time spent per day is to restrict how much game time can count toward working hours. In most companies I have encountered, internal training modules count as working time, and it looks like they do for yours as well. You can allow users an unlimited amount of time to play the training game, increase their leaderboard status, etc., but limit the number of hours of this that can count toward working time. That is, each user would get a certain number of "free" hours to play the game, and would not be required to provide any account to management as to why they took that long, as long as they actually completed it with at least the minimum passing score. Any additional time spent over this amount would have to come out of personal time (either non-work time outside the working day or vacation time), or be specifically arranged with management. If a user can genuinely demonstrate to management why spending X additional days on the training would be helpful to the company (e.g. that they need additional time to get a passing score, or that obtaining a higher-than-minimum score would provide some tangible benefit), they can do so, but if it is clear that the user just wants ego points, management can shoot the request down.

How many hours is reasonable to allow users to complete the training "on the clock"? You mentioned that the training is officially a four-hour training, so perhaps you could double this to account for the fact that some users will naturally take longer to master the material. If a user requires more than eight hours, they could speak to their supervisor to obtain permission to spend additional time "on the clock" working on the training. This could be necessary, for example, as a Reasonable Accommodation for a learning disability.

An example of such a policy could be this:

Employees are expected to complete gamified training modules in eight hours or less. Employees who achieve the minimum passing score in less than the allowed time are allowed to spend additional company time to raise their score, up to the allowed eight hours. Any time spent beyond that is non-compensated and must be done on the employee's own time. If an employee requires more than eight hours to achieve the minimum passing score on any module, they should speak to their supervisor or HR to request additional work time to complete it. No employee will be denied extra work time to complete required modules for any reason beyond their control, such a a disability.


I agree with many of the other answers calling out management issues but I would avoid worrying about blame.

Your question was

How can I patch things up without admitting any sort of fault?

Your boss had a good idea to make the training more fun and you unintentionally made it a little too fun. I would approach your manager with something like

I wanted to get back to you on your recent feedback about the training game. I think your idea to make the training more fun was a great one and I loved the opportunity to work on this project. Hopefully it's clear that my intent was to complete the assigned task as well as I could and make the training more fun. The dramatic increase in test scores is more than I expected and I think that we can both agree that the unintended side effect of productivity decline was unfortunate. I've been thinking about some remedies that we can put into place now to prevent further problems this year and I would like to plan to set aside some time in about nine months to rereview this project for next year's training so it can continue to provide the intended results and prevent the unintended side effects.

At this point I would refer you to the other answers on how to fix/limit the game that you can discuss with your boss.


With this new input from your superiors, couldn't you change the rules to stop giving points after too much interaction, limit number of attempts, and shut out users over a time limit? You have a target level of engagement of 4 hours: there is a such a thing as too much success. It's unfortunate that management didn't react in a healthier way, but with some simple modifications you absolutely can have your cake and eat it too.


You're not actively being punished for something you did.

You're getting chewed out by your boss, because he himself got chewed out by his boss - he's mad and has to take it out on somebody*. That's completely unprofessional, but not at all unheard of. Unfortunately that means at least 2 levels of hierarchy above you are utterly incompetent.

In your situation you find some people who are in management and liked your game (not your boss), ask them to be your reference, and look for a new job with more competent bosses. You can fight 1 level of incompetence above you, but fighting 2 levels of hierarchy does not offer a healthy risk/reward ratio.

*That assessment assumes the boss didn't previously warn you about the issues you now were chewed out for.


This adds to the answers that say you should limit the time the users can spend playing the game. It sounds like the competition for the leaderboard is what's making it too much fun.

1) Take the leaderboard away from the game.

2) Make a second version of the game, that has the leaderboard, but that discourages play during work time. Maybe it's disabled except when the user is on break or at lunch. Maybe it only works when they load it on their personal computers. Maybe it's a phone app.

2a) If it's easier, keep the official version, but have the leaderboard functionality only enabled during off-hours (for the user or the whole company).


The online training is usually not very effective. Upper management may or may not know this, anyways they want bigger numbers (because that is something that is easily done with online trainings - making numbers. Trainings done, percentages reached, etc. Management wants numbers. They look cool and make for easily defined goals.

Short Term: Review the paper trail for your assignment and show that the goals set there where reached (attendance, percentages) and that the current neagtive consequences were not in your purview (if that is not something the paper trail will support, tough luck) - also, look into whether this can be made into a product, or a publication - the mere prospect of any of that will smooth a lot of ruffled feathers.

Long Term: Learn from this - any projects needs a requirements and risk phase, during which the stakeholders can give input on their needs ands wants, which get collated and consolidated into some tangible goals for the project. When that phase is over you can start making a product that conforms to those goalposts. Had this phase taken place, it would have said something about the time employees would spend using the training software, and if the required number of hours is 4, that time would have been set on 4 hours - management is non-creative that way...

  • Well while that's not entirely false, it's not like the management will just tell you : "hey we want big numbers, we don't care if they really understood the content".
    – Walfrat
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 15:11
  • @Walfrat Of course they won't tell you straight up. But imagine the currently (at least in Europe) en vogue training for data security: 99% of employees did the training, 95% concluded it with a passing grade. Great numbers - on to the next subject. So what if the passing grade was attainable by trial and error on 10 imbecilic MC-questions? So what if 'attendance' was measured by how often the webpage was opened? Nobody cares about what was actually to be attained, because the goal was defined as an easily measurable number.
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 8:18

So what happened: Employees took 10 minutes to skim through training courses that should take four hours. You are tasked to do something and are 100% successful - employees now take four hours as they should, and learn much better.

Then upper management figures out that employees now take four hours to take the course, as they should, instead of taking 10 minutes and being "productive" for 3 hours 50 minutes. And they fully blame you.

Which proves (a) it doesn't take a decent IQ to move to upper management (a large bladder is much more important), and (b) no good deed goes unpunished.

Your problem isn't that you did your job too well. Your problem is that you did exactly what you were supposed to do, but your upper management didn't figure out that by making people do their four hour training courses properly, they would do four hours less of profitable work - never mind that the training courses are supposed to make them work better long term. Management got exactly what they asked for, they figured out that what they asked for wasn't actually what they wanted, and blame you.


There is nothing to do except to consider going to a new job with a lot less politics.

When you are criticized for doing something "too well" it is a sure sign that someone above you has paid the price for your doing well in the form of looking incompetent. The ppl above you HATE it when you do something, anything that makes them look like morons. That you, a spare-time game programmer, solved a major problem for the company that no one else had solved simply by making the training fun versus a slog, makes them all look like idiots. Undoubtedly not just one but several of your superiors look like dolts because you were so easily able to fix the problem.

Mangers are politicians. Most human activities do not REQUIRE a manager to oversee them. A manager in such a position knows this so instead of fulfilling an actual function, he or she turns to being a politician. Politicians are people describable many ways but one thing that is true is that most political positions be they elected or appointed are wholly unnecessary and exist only to enforce policy as it pertains to personalities, and to make the people who manage them look good. A sr. mgr. for example looks better the more subordinate mgrs. he or she has under them. It raises their profile in the organization and pads their resumes.

I'd say in any given company of any size, in MOST cases, half to 3/4 of the mgt. and what I call proto-mgt. people (ppl with titles like "experience designer", or "analyst-liaison") can be let go and everything'll still be fine. And they know it. So anything someone who is actually doing work does that leaves them with egg on their face annoys them and they then rush to condemn you for it b/c taking responsibility for being a useless buffoon is the LAST thing a politician wants to do.

So you can just live with it at your job knowing that the truth is you are actually useful while most of the ppl in your chain above you are dunsel, or decide you want to find a place with less of such silliness. Good luck though -- this kind of thing is everywhere.

  • I disagree heavily with this answer. Management serves an incredibly valuable purpose: it sets the priorities for the work. If I've got five things on my plate, to deliver to five different areas, someone has to figure out what order I tackle those. And if your answer is, "You should decide that for yourself!" - then you're requiring that each and every developer in the company has a full strategic picture of the company and its future (because otherwise they won't be able to answer that question.)
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:17
  • Plus, capitalism kinda proves that this mindset is wrong. I mean, if managers truly didn't add worth to the company, guess what: companies wouldn't have them. Because a company that saved millions of dollars on middle management salary would have a natural advantage over the traditional company, and those manager-less companies would crush the ones that did.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:21

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