Research Suggests Collaborative Gaming Could Increase Office Productivity

By: Marie Donlon 

According to research from Brigham Young University (BYU), playing video games with coworkers can lead to improved productivity in the office.

Conducted by BYU information systems professors, the study determined that new work teams experienced a 20% uptick in productivity following a 45-minute video game session with coworkers.

To reach that conclusion, BYU researchers recruited over 350 volunteers and grouped them into 80 different teams. The researchers ensured that there were no pre-existing relationships among teammates as they played a geocaching game called Findamine, which requires players to find landmarks based on short text-based clues. As incentive, the winning teams were promised cash prizes.

Source: BYU

After completing the first round of Findamine, each team was given one of three conditions to follow before playing the geocaching game again. The teams were assigned to one of three 45-minute sessions involving: video gaming where team members played either Rock Band or Halo 4; quiet homework time; or goal training to discuss how to improve the team’s geocaching performance.

According to the researchers, although the goal training teams had reported greater team cohesion than the other groups, the teams playing either Rock Band or Halo 4 demonstrated improved performance during the second round of Findamine, increasing average scores from 435 to 520.

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

However, the BYU researchers caution that the effects may not be the same for teams composed of people who already know each other, as the video games may only reinforce negative relationships and biases that have already been established.

The study is published in the journal AIS Transactions in Human-Computer Interaction.