Americans play a lot of video games. Forty-two percent of Americans play video games at least three hours per week, according to research. However, not many of those adults are playing at work, at least not with their company's authorization. But, new evidence suggests that maybe your boss should let you play video games at work, for a whole host of reasons.
Researchers recently published a study on the impact of video games on stress, engagement and cognitive functioning. The findings were published in Human Factors in June. The team intentionally induced fatigue, through a computer-based task, in 66 participants. Then, participants were told to take a five-minute break. Some participated in a guided relaxation activity, others sat quietly and others played a video game called "Sushi Cat."
The other groups, especially the guided relaxation group, did experience some positive effects from the break time. But, the video-game group members were the only ones to report actually feeling better after their break.
"Playing a casual video game even briefly can restore individuals' affective abilities, making it a suitable activity to restore mood in response to stress," researchers concluded, according to the abstract published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. "However, future research is needed to find activities capable of cognitive restoration."
No one is suggesting that workers play games instead of completing work-related tasks. The idea is that gaming might be a good thing for some people to do during their break times. It could become an acceptable way to take a break, as we learn more about its restorative impact on mood.
"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," Michael Rupp, a doctoral student who worked on the research, told Science Daily. "People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge."
Thirty years ago, video gaming wasn't as common as it is today. Now, so many workers grew up playing video games that it has become a more popular hobby. Research about the popularity of games shows that 155 million Americans play video games regularly. Four out of five American households contain a device used for gaming. For many of us, playing video games is a way to relax. Companies might consider incorporating that winding-down activity into the workday.
Playing video games together could be a bonding experience for coworkers, and that's good for business. It's important to have fun at work and to develop friendships. The activity could help workers be more creative, more productive and hopefully a little happier and less stressed, too.
When people happier at work, they have better feelings about the work itself. Allowing folks to play video games during break times could improve morale. That's a good thing for employee happiness, engagement and ultimately retention.
For a whole host of reasons, it's good for us to find ways to be happier at work. A little gaming during break times just might be the ticket. It's probably at least worth a try (provided, of course, that you can get the boss on board).
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