A look at gaming’s growing impact on the workplace. Including evidence that it’s making men work less, and the latest innovations in recruitment.
In the popular imagination, the terms “video games” and “employment” have a chequered history, with the former often impinging on the prospects of the latter. But is this actually the case? Some research says yes, and that it has only gotten worse (as the video games have gotten better). A recent US study linking reduced employment rates in men to the increase in quality of video games.
However, other research says that video games can actually increase productivity and lower stress levels. Plus, some organisations are trying to take advantage of the latest gaming advances to attract candidates.
“Video games have gotten really good”
Young men in the US are working fewer hours due to the fact that video games have become just too good to pass up, a study by The National Bureau of statistics says. The research found that by 2015, men in the US aged 31-55 were working 163 hours less per year than the same age group did in 2000. This number was surpassed by the younger age group (21-30), who worked 203 hours less in 2015 than they did in 2000.
Of course there are other factors at play, such as decreased opportunity due to the 2008 recession, a report in the NY Times points out. But the study measures how people who have a few more hours to spare are spending their leisure time – with 60 per cent of participants using that time to play video games.
Now let’s consider the increase in quality of video games. Whereas in the past video games were an isolated experience, or had a fairly narrow social aspect, people can now compete and collaborate in a way that’s becoming ever more meaningful to them. Video game designer and scholar Jane McGonical says, “Games provide a sense of waking in the morning with one goal: I’m trying to improve this skill, teammates are counting on me, and my online community is relying on me. There is a routine and daily progress that does a good job at replacing traditional work.”
Does all work and no play make Jack a dull boy?
What about those that say video games help them blow off steam? This study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information says that rather than being a hindrance to productivity, video games reduce stress and fatigue in the workplace by breaking up monotony. Earlier research in 2014 says gamification can also increase memory and motivation.
“Playing a casual video game even briefly can restore individuals’ affective abilities, making it a suitable activity to restore mood in response to stress.”
“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. People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”
Seek and you shall find
Do some games make work easier, particularly for HR?
In an article featured earlier this year, HRM discussed the benefits of game based recruitment. Gamification has the ability to test skills and determine culture fit. Companies such as Unilever swear by it, citing a faster recruitment process, lower associated costs and higher diversity rates as the key benefits.
After completing an application online, Unilever candidates are requested to participate in a 20 minute gaming session to ascertain their skill level. The most successful applicants are then given a video interview.
One of the biggest new trends in the gaming world is virtual reality, and some organisations are already trying to take advantage. The US Navy for instance, has made a VR video game that simulates what it’s like to be in command of a covert Navy mission. Unlike the VR the US Army and Navy use for training purposes, the idea behind this new game is to boost recruitment. A tractor trailer carrying the VR pods was driven around the country to schools and special events to attract students in STEM programs, reports Fortune.
(For more on how VR and AR are having an impact on workplaces, read our article)
What’s your take on the impact of video games in the workplace?