Traditional workplaces have eschewed the practice of gaming, seeing it as goofing off and time taken away from actual work. But there is an increasing body of evidence pointing to the benefits of gaming in the work place – during work hours.

What needs to be made clear is that this is social, inclusive gaming.

First, gaming, by its very nature, is fun. That’s the point. And, depending on the game, such fun can be had in a very small amount of time. Whether two combatants duke it out on a screen or one person goes for the record against the computer, the idea is to do it publicly. This allows everyone to watch and participate in the game. It provides a welcome change of scenery and change of pace from the grind of work.

Computer games in the office? photo

Computer games in the office? photo

Second, games played in this open way allow players and spectators alike to socialise. People get to learn something about one another in a way impossible to recreate in the business atmosphere. Traditional staged team-building events cannot recreate the spontaneity and natural atmosphere of such moments.

Third, nearly every game, from a first-person shoot ‘em up to multi-player strategy games, give the players cognitive challenges. These challenges exercise the minds of players and spectators alike in ways the day-to-day course of business may not. But that doesn’t mean such mental flexibility won’t be called upon in the future. In fact, developing the thinking skills of your team is the most important thing you, as an employer, can do to ensure the survival and prosperity of your business.

Fourth, as gaming strategies are swapped and tested, as players are teased and lauded friendships arise. Tech companies in San Francisco who have implemented office gaming have reported on the depth and resilience of team bonding that has arisen from as little as two ten minute office gaming sessions a day. Rather than small-talk around the office water cooler people are given a focus and learn about each other in a less overt and confrontational way.

Office gaming has been shown to improve productivity, reduce stress, improve thinking skills, develop team spirit, and improve relationships between everyone involved – whether they play or not.

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