Why Playing Video Games at Work Makes You More Productive

First, let us address the most common explanation. If you are playing video games during work, you are probably experiencing an ongoing adrenalin rush. After all it would be quite inconvenient if your boss or superiors were to notice. This adrenaline rush ultimately boosts your brain power and as you minimize your game window and start to type, when you hear someone approaching, the sudden spike in your productivity is quite noticeable. It goes without saying that you should not use this method to boost your productivity. The article will tackle the subject of gaming and its positive impact on the working environment.

Although there is a lot of controversy regarding this issue, whether people want to admit it or not, video games are a form of art. When I say art, I mean art that lives up to modern art standards not post-modern art standards. Like other art forms, games are capable of providing catharsis, inspiring certain emotions, or lifting up one’s spirit. All of these things have a positive impact on our psyche. I will primarily examine the positive influence of gaming in general how they could even make you smarter and then explain how this can be applied in any working environment.

The perks

There are many different types of games, and they demand various things from players. Some of them require you to be focused, other require precision or fast decision making, but most of them are a form of puzzle, in one way or another. For you to solve this puzzle, you need to be both creative and analytical, which requires plenty of brain power. The current model of free-to-play games incorporates an energy system. This energy refills over time, so in order to be successful you need to work on your organization, as you want to achieve maximum efficiency. Of course, the majority of these games rely on this energy  system to get players into the game (the skinner box method) and eventually extort money from them, which is entirely wrong, but that is a topic for another time.

The most popular form of games are those that rely on online interaction between players. So communication skills, organization, good leadership, and knowing how to interact with a diverse community are some of the traits that are developed as a result of extensive gameplay. I personally know of a World of Warcraft player who works in online marketing, who said that his gaming experience helped him tremendously with his job.

The game mechanics themselves had nothing to do with his job, but the fact that he had to be more interactive, and that he was more acquainted with the online community and “culture” really made a difference.  Another example is Stephen Gillett, who is a chief operating officer at Symantec. He is also a WoW player, who was a guild leader in the game. This means he had to organize guild banks, organize raid tactics and assess new members. Stephen claims that the skills he displayed while playing the game improved his performance as a leader in real life as well.

Games at your workplace   

Playing games at work during breaks is a perfect incentive to boost motivation and productivity, provided that your workers enjoy playing games. As mentioned, games can be great stress relievers and playing can be an activity everyone looks forward to when they come to work. This will create a positive connection inside an employee’s mind, and it will be a great form of brain gymnastics in the morning, allowing people to spark up their cognitive skills. In general, you can learn quite a lot from video games, and the generation of people that grew up playing them have a very specific mindset.

Another positive aspect is bonding. Playing games during a break is a fun and relaxing experience, a mutual comfort zone if you will, which makes people feel more welcome. In other words, people who do not normally interact with one another during a regular workday now have a joint activity. While we are on the topic of team building, there is an even better bonding experience called Escape the Room. This is an amazing team building exercise if your staff is into games and puzzles. Basically, you and your teammates are locked in a room and have one hour to find a key and escape. The key can be found only by examining clues and using them to solve numerous puzzles, which are all part of a bigger puzzle. These activities are based on video games called “Zero Escape” and “999”, and if your team is not well-coordinated and ready to work together, no one will be able to win the challenge. Throughout this experience everyone gets to know one another a bit better, see how they behave under pressure, and so on.    

Clearly, these are all solid arguments that prove games can increase productivity at your workplace; however, it all comes down to personal points of view. Luckily, there is even more tangible proof for this thesis – scientific research conducted by Professor Jeffrey Goldstein.

The experiment  

Professor Jeffrey Goldstein conducted an experiment on whether playing video games at work can have a positive impact on one’s performance. There were two groups – one group was allowed to play video games like Solitaire and Minesweeper for one hour, and they could use that hour however they wanted. They had control over how long the play session would last, and when they wanted to play. The other group was denied the chance to play games at all. The results revealed that the group that was allowed to play was more productive and felt more positive about their job, than the group of people who didn’t play games.

Now, there is nothing special about Solitaire or Minesweeper that makes you more productive or smarter per se, although there has been some evidence that games do exactly that. It’s more about having multiple coffee breaks and the ability to strategically use them as one pleases. This gives our brain the opportunity to rest from tedious tasks, and the employees develop a positive attitude towards work because they have a lot more freedom. So, if people love to play video games, and you allow them to do so during work, it will reflect positively on their overall performance. Professor Goldstein stated that his future research will explore how more complex and competitive games affect one’s performance, and he speculates these games can be particularly useful for those working in the sales department.

Personally, I think this is a good idea, as long as the games people are playing are not distracting or prevent co-workers from doing their jobs, e.g. if two employees are playing something on the console, and the loud audio from the game is preventing others from concentrating. All things considered, a healthier and friendlier atmosphere can never harm any work environment. If people are less stressed out, they are bound to be more productive. Using games as a tactic for boosting productivity, while at the same time making sure it is not a distraction, is all about good management. Lastly, if your staff doesn’t share the passion for gaming, playing video games won’t affect their performance, and you’ll have to find another way to make them feel good about their job.

Do you think that computer games can help improve productivity in your workplace? Your thoughts an comments below please...