How Video Games Teach and Help us to Be More Productive

From the Console to the Office: Enhancing Productivity Through Gaming

Video games for productivity is an interesting recent development. They can teach and help you to become more productive. This might sound counterintuitive, especially if you grew up to constant tirades from adults, teachers, and mainstream media on how video games are time wasters.

Many anti-gaming activists never miss the chance to point out video games can encourage violence, immaturity and trigger addiction. However, as is the case with almost anything you can think of, video games have pros and cons. 

Most of the things that make video games fun can push you towards more productivity in real life, as long as you always play in moderation.  How? This article’s got you covered!

Video Games Teach You to Become More Accountable

The best video games are usually very challenging. With more levels or missions conquered, you feel a rush of dopamine and a sense of accomplishment. When you fail to cross a level, on the other hand, you knuckle down and try to understand why you failed and then go again.  This teaches you to focus on your actions, and how they can control situations you find yourself in. 

In the real world, personal accountability ensures you always look at yourself first when it comes to facing a challenge or solving a problem.  With this, you can ramp up your overall productivity by always looking for how your actions or inactions have hindered you from completing a project, as well as how you can make things better in the future, instead of blaming external influences.

Video Games Can Help You Recharge Your Brain

How many times have you felt mentally tired from working on some tedious tasks? Once at this point, you can either trudge on at half (or less than half) of your usual capacity or procrastinate. The latter option can disrupt your productivity a great deal.

Taking a break to play a video game can give you a new boost of energy to complete your tasks. The more challenging the game, the higher the energizing potential! A challenging game will crank up the dopamine levels in your brain’s reward pathways. This will give you a new level of will power and motivation to continue with your tasks. 

Video Games Can Enhance Your Reading Skills

Are you a student looking to be more productive with studying? Dreading video games may not be the best thing to do.  In 2013, a research team demonstrated that playing video games can improve reading skills.  The research split test subjects into two groups where one group played a slower-paced game while the other plays ‘Rayman Raving Rabbids’.  The latter group demonstrated the ability to read faster and more accurately

Even outside the academic environment, being able to read work-related documents quickly can help you to achieve more. Think about all the times you’ve had to postpone completing a report because you haven’t been able to make time to read all the critical documents that are relevant to the task!

Video Games Can Improve Your Multitasking Abilities

Do you lose focus quickly when you have to do more than one thing at a time? Video games can teach you multi-tasking, helping you to improve productivity. Games like Call of Duty can improve your ability to process visual and auditory sensations at the same time, hence helping you to understand multi-tasking.

Games Can Boost Grey Matter in the Brain

Researchers have demonstrated how video games can positively affect the brain. In this 2013 study, they asked 23 adults aged 25 on average, to play “Super Mario 64” for 30 minutes every day over 60 days.  The control group didn’t play any games at all over the study period.

The results were impressive.  MRI scans of the test group showed that playing “Super Mario 64” for 30 minutes per day increased the grey matter in the cerebellum, right prefrontal cortex, and right hippocampus. Why does this matter?

The three areas of the brain mentioned are responsible for strategy, memory, spatial navigation, and fine motor skills. With improvements in this area, there is no question that your overall productivity will see positive changes. 

Games Can Teach Leadership and Socialization

The productivity of project teams largely depends on proper leadership and quality interactions between team members.  The composition of modern video games makes them a perfect tool for teaching leadership and social interactions. 

Whether you are playing offline games on your PlayStation or XBox with few friends huddled around your TV or playing online in a team with dozens of other players, gaming requires interactions. In most online multiplayer games, this will typically involve voice and video communication, thereby teaching ordinarily reclusive people to improve their social skills. 

With games that involve teamwork, improving social skills gradually culminates in learning how to become a leader. Although it may not be readily visible on the surface, there are many things you have to do when leading or guild or squad in a game, and when managing a project team in a corporate environment. They include the following:

  • Inspiring a group towards achieving a goal
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Synchronizing ideas
  • Keeping everyone focused on the big prize
  • Recruiting new team members
  • Harnessing the strengths of each team member

With these, you can keep your team running effortlessly as a well-oiled productive machine. 

Games Can Teach Strategic Planning and Forward-Thinking 

Strategy-based games like Civilisation V, Starcraft II, Dota 2, etc. are some of the most popular video games around today because players appreciate the highly-stimulating gameplay, which places emphasis on planning and strategic thinking. 

Such skills are valuable when it comes to enhancing productivity. With better planning comes better execution of your daily activities, thus helping you to achieve larger goals faster. Strategic planning and forward-thinking also helps in corporate environments where you need to think on your feet at all times. Knowing what to say at the right moment or the best course of action to take in a situation will keep you ahead of the curve.

However, it is important to keep a balance. Going too deep with your planning can lead to analysis paralysis where you end up feeling overwhelmed or freezing at critical points when you need to make a fast decision. As is the case in gaming, your planning and forward-thinking must always be in moderation, or you’ll always miss the right moment to strike. 

Video Games Improves Collaboration within Teams

According to a new study by Brigham Young University professors, newly formed work teams can experience up to 20% increase in productivity on future tasks after they play a game together for just 45 minutes. 

The research was based on 353 individuals that were randomly organized into 80 teams, with no friends, acquaintances or former colleagues on the same team.  

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

Interestingly, the positive effect of this exercise was also evident even among people that can’t be regarded as avid gamers. The finding of this research is no surprise, considering the points we’ve covered already in this article. Video games are one of the best ways to get an individual to open up, especially within a group. The socialization and camaraderie factors translate to real gains in productivity within a work-environment.

Video Games Teach Delayed Gratification

One of the reasons why productivity suffers at work, home or school is the fact that we generally always want instant gratification. Instead of waiting to complete that task at hand, you are itching to complete the late episode of your favorite TV show or get your fix of Twitter scrolling. Once you give in to these urges, it takes a while to get back in your groove and get your job done.

Repetitive activities, especially at work, are no fun. Video games, however, have been preparing gamers for the day job experience. Think back to your old arcade games like Tetris or Space Invaders. They had repetitive gameplay, but you always looked forward to a session to see how far you could go.

Modern role-playing games like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, EverQuest, etc. all encourage you to take part in repetitive monster fights to make your character grow stronger. With both options, you don’t stop until you have achieved your goal.  

Video games teach you how to grind through something unpleasant, with an ultimate goal in mind. Whether it is starting all over in Tetris to beat a previous high score, or to beat the same giant multiple times in Dragon Warrior to grow your character, there is no denying that you’d probably want to spend your time on something else if there was a workaround to get those results. Since there are no options, and you need to get your desired result, you have to knuckle down and put in the work.

If this habit makes it into your daily routine, you will achieve a lot more within the same time limit. Instead of jumping on Twitter or opening up Netflix as soon as the impulse hits, you’ll find yourself exercising better control, with the binge-watching session, or your Twitter timeline as the reward. 

Video Games for Productivity: Conclusion

Video games are much-maligned, but as with most things in life, playing them in moderation can yield numerous benefits. Sometimes, all you need is a 30-minute to 1-hour session per day to turn your game console from a time waster to an incredible ally that can help you become more productive in every sphere of your life.

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