Coffee, tobacco, and work can each prove addictive for some executives. But CNBC's Darren Rovell says the newest monkey on C-level backs is a video game, Brickbreaker. And the supplier is the exec's very own BlackBerry handheld.
Research in Motion's BlackBerry -- colloquially called the "CrackBerry," for its own allegedly addictive qualities -- is the ubiquitious digital device for white-collar workers, connecting people to their e-mail addresses far faster than many smart phones. And that's where the problem starts, according to systems engineer Sean Michael Whipkey, a frequent contributor to Gamersinfo.net. The gamer extraordinaire notes on "Squawk Box" that just as every PC that ran Microsoft Windows boasted Solitaire -- the salvation of deskbound keypad pounders -- so too do most BlackBerrys have a built-in Brickbreaker game, right on the little gadget's "desktop." He reviews the game as "very basic," even "annoying."
So why does The Wall Street Journal report that so many C-level executives are hooked? Whipkey paraphrases Mt. Everest scaler Sir Edmund Hilary: " 'Cause it's there!" The player-writer said that another Brickbreaker advantage -- or perhaps disadvantage? -- is that its inclusion means "you don't have to be worried that your IT department" will spot you searching for, and downloading, a game from the Internet.
The Wall Street Journal said Richard Handler, CEO of brokerage Jefferies Group, boasts a top score of 15,135. (Sources tell us this is very high, indeed.) Richard Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings, was in the grip of his addiction -- and had the game removed from his BlackBerry. He missed it so much he had it reinstalled, but it's no longer on the main menu -- which removes the temptation "for the most part." One who has mastered the desire: Goldman Sachs head honcho Lloyd Blankfein, whose high score was "less than 4,000." Of course, great will power was required to make Blankfein Wall Street's highest-paid executive in 2006.
Are you a Brick Breaker addict? Send us your high score or your comments.