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The Benefit of Playing Video Games at Work

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The Benefit of Playing Video Games at Work

For some, playing video games at work seems like a far-off dream. But, one study reveals that doing so may actually help you work better.

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For a long time organizations would ban access to social media at work, fearful that employees would spend their day goofing around on Facebook rather than doing any work. So the idea of letting employees play games at work is even harder to square, yet a recent paper argues the case for just that, with the rationale behind the concept very similar to that for allowing social media access.

The paper highlights how roughly half of us experience regular cognitive fatigue at work, whether as a result of stress, anxiety, or any number of things. This is especially problematic in professions where a high cognitive load is placed on workers. So, the team wanted to test whether a short burst of gaming could help to alleviate some of that load and help both our performance levels and mental wellbeing.

Gaming at Work

Participants were given a range of tasks to perform in order to induce cognitive fatigue, before being given a five-minute break to recover. During that break, participants were given either a video game to play, a relaxation activity, or free time to do as they please (albeit without a phone or computer). They were then measured again afterward according to both their performance and emotional state (stress, mood, etc.).

When the results were analyzed, it emerged that those who did their own thing during the break reported feeling less engaged afterward, and subsequently were more stressed as a result. Those doing the relaxation exercise did much better, but those playing the video game actually reported feeling better after the break than before it.

"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. People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge," the authors say.

Some of the more youthful workplaces now have video game systems installed, but it will be interesting to see if such practices thread to more traditional workplaces.

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