Diverse group of workers playing video games in an office and cheering with excitement.
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Playing video games at work could make you more productive

29 Jan 2019

A new study shows that collaborative video games at work could increase your team’s productivity by as much as 20pc.

Whether it’s a newly formed team of co-workers or a group that just needs a productivity boost, it seems bringing video games into work is the way to go.

What has previously been seen as nothing more than a gimmick confined to swanky tech offices, video games appear to be the best new way to improve employee performance and increase productivity.

A new study by Brigham Young University professors found that newly formed work teams experienced a 20pc increase in productivity on subsequent tasks after playing video games together for just 45 minutes.

“To see that big of a jump – especially for the amount of time they played – was a little shocking,” said co-author and associate professor Greg Anderson. “Companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on team-building activities, and I’m thinking, go buy an Xbox.”

Researchers recruited 353 individuals and randomly organised them into 80 teams, making sure no participants with pre-existing relationships were on the same team. For their initial experimental task, each team played in a geocaching competition called Findamine.

Following their first round of Findamine, teams were randomly assigned to one of three conditions before being sent out to geocache again: team video gaming, quiet homework time or a goal-training discussion on improving their geocaching results. Each of these conditions lasted 45 minutes and those in the video-gaming treatment chose to play either Rock Band or Halo 4 – games selected because they are both familiar and require coordinated efforts among players.

The researchers found that while the goal-training teams reported a higher increase in team cohesion than the video-gaming teams, the video gamers increased actual performance on their second round of Findamine significantly, raising average scores from 435 to 520.

“Team video gaming may truly be a viable – and perhaps even optimal – alternative for team building,” said lead researcher Mark Keith.

Researchers also said it doesn’t matter if people are avid video gamers to see the positive effects of gaming together; they observed that novices established communications norms and built working relationships even quicker with new teammates so as to learn the nuances of the game.

However, while playing video games together can increase productivity among new team members, researchers admitted that there can be negative side effects for those who already know each other. In this case, competitive video gaming may possibly reinforce negative relationships that have developed from previous experiences.

Since the same could be said for any team-building exercise with a competitive element, however, an Xbox might still be the better option.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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