Whilst not something that ever appeared on the official Microsoft Teams Roadmap, Microsoft last week, announced and released the “Games for Work app” to both commercial and education customers. The Microsoft 365 blog article on the matter said….
What is Games for Work?
Games for Work is an app developed by Microsoft Casual Games and initially includes four classic Windows games: Solitaire, Minesweeper, Wordament, and Icebreakers, all of which can be played individually or with up to 250 multiple players.
Using Games for Work in Teams
As with all Teams app, the Games for Work shows up under apps in the Teams admin center, and before employees can launch the app, there needs to be a Teams app permission policy assigned to the user for them to use it (unless already permitted via a higher-level policy).
Once a user has access to the app, they can add Games for Work to their meetings before or during a meeting, just like any other app. Meeting co-organizers and presenters can also install apps in meetings.
Once a user has been given access to the app, they can add Games for Work to a meeting before or during a meeting, just like any other Teams app. Meeting co-organisers and presenters can also install apps in meetings.
Choosing and Launching a Game: When Games for Work launches, the app takes centre stage in the shared content area, just like any other shared app like whiteboard or PowerPoint would do.
Once the Games for Work app opens, it connects to the Microsoft Games online site and the meeting host (or an organiser) selects the game they wish to play and launches it. As other members join the meeting the host can share their screen to agree which game is plays or launch their choice of game and wait for other members to join.
To Stop a Game: To stop playing, the user who starts the app (the host) stops sharing. Attendees can also leave the game at any time (to do some real work perhaps!)
Blocking Access to Games for Work
The most straightforward way to prevent employees using Games for Work is to simply ensure IT “block” the app. If it is decided to allow some employees to use the app, then a custom policy will be needed and applied to a group that contains those users.
Another thing to bear in mind is that different users may have different app permission policies (especially in larger organisations). As such it is possible that not everyone in a meeting will have access to Games for Work. If this is the case, they will receive a generic error message asking them to speak to their Teams administrator or call the help desk.
Verdict and Thoughts
Personally, I’m not sure about this and think many organisations will want to remove or block this functionality (which you can do). Microsoft believe, however that “playing games with co-workers in Teams meetings will foster relationships and build collaboration”.
I’m sure many will say that “Games for Work” may help people to relax (or take a break) but I’m sure there are better ways than adding games to a Teams meeting. This is not a pandemic “Zoom party” with your friends!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this….