Collaborative video games could increase office productivity

Team video gaming increased the effectiveness of newly-formed teams by 20 percent.


A new study by Brigham Young University suggests that playing video games with coworkers is the real path to better performance at the office. This increases productivity on subsequent tasks after playing video games together for just 45 minutes.

Scientists conducted the study on newly-formed work teams and found that 20% increased productivity among employees. This study adds to a growing body of literature finding positive outcomes of team video gaming.

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

For the study, scientists recruited 352 individuals and randomly organized 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, an exercise created by previous IS researchers which gives players short, text-based clues to find landmarks. Participants were incentivized with cash rewards for winning the competition.

Following their first round of Findamine, teams were randomly assigned to one of three conditions before being sent out to geocache again: 1) team video gaming, 2) quiet homework time, or 3) a “goal training” discussion on improving their geocaching results.

Each of these conditions lasted 45 minutes. 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 scientists found that while the goal-training groups detailed a higher increment in-group attachment than the video-gaming groups, the video gamers increased actual performance on their second round of Findamine altogether, raising average scores from 435 to 520.

Lead researcher Mark Keith, associate professor of information systems at BYU, said, “Team video gaming may truly be viable — and perhaps even optimal — alternative for team building.”

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

There is one caveat to the finding, notwithstanding the examination was finished with groups of people who don’t have any acquaintance with one another. Specialists concede that if the team are acquainted with one another, at that point, focused video gaming may perhaps strengthen predispositions and negative connections created from previous experiences.

Journal Reference
  1. Keith, M. J., Anderson, G., Gaskin, J., & Dean, D. (2018). Team Video Gaming for Team Building: Effects on Team Performance. AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 10(4), 205-231. DOI: 10.17705/1thci.00110
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