Who among us hasn’t found themselves so addicted to some time-consuming video game that he ended up spending more of his workday playing than working? Matthew Bolick, a land use engineer for the state of Virginia, didn’t manage to avoid this fate. He apparently lost interest in real world land-use design and succumbed to the thrills of a virtual world-building game—and he did it on the taxpayer dime. A recent audit by the Virginia Department of Transportation revealed that over a two week period, Bolick spent 28 hours of on-the-clock time playing Sid Meier’s Civilization IV, a turn-based strategy video game that, if my multiple highly addicted friends and family members are any indication, frequently seems to reduce otherwise friendly and productive human beings into a sort of trance-like state in which any communications attempt is met with the same mumbled, glassy-eyed response: “Just. One. More. Turn...”
I’m not a Civ player, but my life, such as it is, has occasionally been hobbled for short periods of time by digital dramas like Fallout 3 and Borderlands; so while I don’t condone his, ah, dedication to the game, I do sympathize. My sympathy is magnified by the fact Bolick’s auditors appear to be both humorless scolds (they also cite Bolick for browsing to the “questionable” yuks site Cracked.com) and less-than-efficient workers themselves. Somehow they managed to blow even more taxpayer money tracking down Bolick's time-wasting than he did playing games during the audit period: According to The Washington Examiner’s write-up of the state report, “the cost of the investigation totaled more than $3,500, while the amount of fraud, waste or abuse identified—28 hours of game playing at a $39.90-an-hour pay rate—was $1,117.20.” Perhaps taxpayers would have been better off if the auditors had just spent their time playing video games.