Games Engineers Play

Software engineers at New Relic work hard, but they also play hard. Especially when it comes to board games.

Nowhere was that more in evidence than at our recent internal engineering conference in suburban Portland. Amidst an ongoing hardware hackathon, rivers of Hammerhead Ale and other libations, not to mention mountains of rich desserts, the same intellectual rigor and logical problem-solving skills that underlie New Relic’s product line was applied to less serious but just as competitive pursuits.

Engineers playing games

While some programmers tested their language chops at Scrabble, others dove into similar classics ranging from Monopoly to Blokus, from Taboo to Ticket To Ride. The more strategic types, meanwhile went for titles like Axis & Allies, Merchant of Venus, Hull Breach, Dominion, 7 Wonders, Magic: The Gathering, and many others.

Engineers playing games 2

Risk rules

But without a doubt, the high point was an epic, four-hour game of Risk led by New Relic founder and CEO Lew Cirne. As one of his victims wryly acknowledged: “Lew is a very polite Risk opponent. He kindly apologized as he was wiping me out of the game in one sweeping turn.”

Engineers playing games 3

It turned out that the competition was so closely matched that the game never actually ended, with the remaining players agreeing to a draw in order to return to coding on another day.'

Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite,, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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