INNOVATE

Playing Video Games At Work Can Make You More Productive

Think that office foosball table or Wii console are just a waste of money? Think again!

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BY Cristina Morales - 11 Aug 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Video games have become a huge part of today’s society. With the rise of casual games on apps, they’re the most accessible they’ve ever been; just check your favorite aunt’s phone and see how far along she is in her game of Candy Crush, Farmville, or Clash of Clans.

Gaming is typically seen as more of a distraction from more productive endeavors, but according to a recent article from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, playing video games could help you deal with stress. And stress alleviation plays an important role in productivity, especially in highly critical roles where the slightest error could lead to serious consequences.

In the article, University of Central Florida doctoral student Michael Rupp and his co-authors used a computer task to induce mental fatigue in 66 participants. The participants were then given a 5-minute rest break. Some were instructed to play a casual video game (Sushi Cat), some participated in a guided relaxation activity, and some merely sat quietly in the testing room without a phone or computer.

The researchers found that only those who played a video game actually felt better after the break. Basically, taking a step back from a difficult task and unwinding with a few minutes of gaming could help reset your fatigued mind.

“We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes,” says Rupp in a media release. “People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”

Other benefits

Citing TechnologyAdvice.com in this Inc. article, Eric Holtzclaw identified six ways that video games affect your brain and encourage productivity, including an increase in motivation, efficiency, feelings of empathy, and improved memory. Studies have also found that video games can boost visual skills, helping with everyday activities like multitasking and driving; one study even found that video game-playing surgeons perform significantly better than their non-playing colleagues. Another study found that playing fast-paced video games can improve learning capabilities.

“It looks like the easiest way to increase productivity is not providing more vacation, bigger paychecks, or improved benefits,” says Holtzclaw. “Instead, you should encourage your employees to play more games!”

Video games can change our brain’s performance—they can make it better, but can also make it worse. As with everything else, moderation is key. A few minutes of gaming in between tasks is fine, but don’t take these findings as an excuse to go on weekend-long gaming binges.