Video games have a controversial reputation in some quarters, to say the least. It seems we have a cultural impediment preventing us from judging the subject in an even-handed manner. Scientists aren’t always much help, offering ample research papers to both prove and disprove every proposition. Part of the problem is the vague definition of “gaming”: every game is different and so are the players. Design and context are everything.
However, games have become a multi-billion pound business no matter what anyone thinks. Computer game revenues overtook the movie business twenty years ago and today are four times bigger. Young people spend more time using phone apps than they do watching TV, and far from feeling socially isolated by it, many rely on technology to meet up with friends. Now there is growing evidence that games can improve workplace productivity as well.
The value of workplace breaks has long been known, but although often required by law, many employees skip them completely. The reason is that there is often nowhere to go and nothing stimulating to do. Staying at your desk is often preferable to staring at a blank wall or vaping in a bicycle shelter. An appropriately designed game can provide a stimulating distraction or, if mobile, actually get people on their feet (remember Pokemon Go?). Gaming concepts can be integrated into fitness apps or used to promote social interaction in the workforce.
A study at Brigham Young University discovered a 20% productivity improvement following 45 minutes of game playing with colleagues. A similar study at the University of Central Florida concluded that players ‘exhibited greater engagement and affective restoration’ than those who rested for the same period.
Gaming may also boost workplace productivity by direct effects on cognitive ability. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology found a positive correlation between game playing and high school performance (but a negative one with Facebook and Twitter use). Research at the University of Rochester concluded that games can be an effective training tool for real life, helping people make accurate decisions 25% faster. Games also foster resource management, mathematics, English comprehension, logic and pattern recognition. Even first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty have demonstrable benefits, training players to multitask and focus for long periods.
Since video games stimulate imagination, it is logical to expect effects on creativity. A study by Michigan State University on 500 children confirmed this: the more children played video games, the more creative they became in drawing and story writing. In fact, several studies show that regular game playing increases grey matter in the brain: just 30 minutes of Super Mario 64 daily produced results in two months. There are now plans for game designers to work with neuroscientists to develop games for therapeutic purposes.
In the workplace, games present an opportunity for players to explore ideas and decisions freed from stress. This can make staff more confident and proactive during brainstorming sessions and team meetings.
Connected multiplayer games require players to cooperate with other players or form teams to reach an objective. Common sense suggests this is good training for real-world situations. There is now ample evidence linking game use to improved social skills and to improved morale. In the past, employers have tried team games to boost morale and teamwork but video games are potentially more effective, faster and cheaper to organise.
Design is everything!
In the near future, computer games will play an important role in our schools and workplaces but achieving positive results depends on well-informed game design. There is more to professional game design than just coding: neurology and social science have important parts to play. I-Gem have a unique position in this market with access to skilful game developers. Why not call us today to discuss the potential benefits to your business.
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