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4/3/2015
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4 Video Games Every Office Should Play Together

Video games are more than just fun and games. Learn how the right games can create a more collaborative, loyal and effective staff.
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(Image: Kurt Thomas)

(Image: Kurt Thomas)

Gamification is big in the enterprise these days -- but what about just regular old gaming?

We addressed gaming at work as a worthwhile activity in a recent InformationWeek slideshow on supposed workplace "time-wasters," noting that on-the-job gaming "giv[es] employees more reasons to stay in the office [and is] a great way for co-workers to get together and collaborate while keeping their minds sharp."

Indeed, video games have been shown to be good for brain health, offering myriad benefits such as increased focus, improved recovery from strokes, and an enhanced ability to stave off diseases such as Parkinson's.

Video games can also be good for a person's career -- especially in IT-related fields. Being able to successfully lead a World of Warcraft guild, for example, demonstrates leadership qualities, tactical ability, financial management skills, and a good mindset for effective gamification deployments -- just the sorts of things a company looks for in a CIO.

Conservative HR departments may be reluctant to allow -- let alone embrace -- a gaming culture in the workplace, but such a lack of confidence in one's own employees seems overly paternalistic at best.

"Salaried employees know that their work day is what they need it to be," says CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux, "and if they need to squeeze in 15 to 20 minutes of leisure time here or there, they know they can make it up later."

Besides, the benefits of a gaming workplace seem to largely outweigh the risks. A permissive corporate culture that embraces video games will see a less-stressed, higher-morale, and even smarter and higher-quality workforce. The Motley Fool, for instance, attributes its extremely low employee turnover to the company's gaming culture.

In the following pages, we recommend four video games that have proven themselves as effective tools for improving productivity, collaboration, and brain function. As you click through, take note of the qualities that these games and others like them might bring to your enterprise. Maybe your next big problem will be solved with the help of gamers.

Joe Stanganelli is founder and principal of Beacon Hill Law, a Boston-based general practice law firm. His expertise on legal topics has been sought for several major publications, including US News and World Report and Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine. Joe is also ... View Full Bio

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mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
4/7/2015 | 3:35:14 PM
Re: Work ethics
@Li Tan,

I bet those engineers seek really innovative ways to play Nerf :)
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2015 | 10:21:06 AM
Re: Work ethics
It's a great idea to have creative and fantastic video game in office. In my office area, the engineers just play Nerf gun - definitely they should have something more interesting.:-)
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2015 | 8:58:40 AM
Bejeweled > Candy Crush etc
At least if you encourage workers to play Bejeweled, they'll be able to play the classic match-3 formula, without being suckered into paying for extra energy, lives, or any of the other time or money sink buttons that appear all over most freemium games on smartphones and tablets. 

I'd argue however that there are far better team building exercises that test skills more fitting for an office space than Call of Duty. Kerbal Space Program would be great for engineers and Minecraft for those with limited hardware.

However if you do want to go down the shooter route, Evolve is pretty excellent. 
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/6/2015 | 1:04:00 AM
Re: 4 Video Games Every Office Should Play Together
This is a lot of fun. As you point out, it's also not without some real science behind it. Gaming has long been shown to have good long-term mental benefits. While there is such a thing as over-indulging the twitch reflexes that is perhaps not so good for the avid gamer, the occasional fast-paced game seems to help keep the mind's "pathways" sharp as it ages and aid in making complex problem-solving second nature. I'd liken it to the supposed heart health benefits of an occasional glass of red wine - it's a far cry from encouraging alcoholism. There was even a rash of 'Brain Training' games in Japan  some years ago (it happened to a lesser extent here, and derivates still exist today) designed to do exactly that and tell you the relative 'age' of your brain, based on real neuroscience, after a couple of 'exercises'. 

Depending on how tenuous we're willing to make the connection, the possibilities are literally endless for tying all kinds of games to workplace benefits. Mario Kart seems like a staple because it stimulates some amount of friendly competition and/or trash talk, but is casual enough and unencumbered by over-complexity so that even complete non-gamers can win a few races thanks to the luck of the draw. League Of Legends is still the most popular multiplayer game in the world, and it took off because of it's highly team-oriented gameplay. Each player has a set 'position' on the team - I'm the archer that does tons of damage, but I'm easily killed and have to rely on you, the healer, to watch my back and keep me topped up. There's definitely a business teamwork lesson in there. Side benefit: it's free.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2015 | 9:51:18 AM
Work ethics
Excellent article Joe!! I greatly enjoyed it. I would be so cool if in the lunch room the would have either classic arcade machines or PCs with emulators just to kick back for a while in-between tasks.

You mentioned in your article ""Salaried employees know that their work day is what they need it to be," says CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux, "and if they need to squeeze in 15 to 20 minutes of leisure time here or there, they know they can make it up later.""

I do greatly agree with this, and in fact is the way I manage my time. Thankfully I'm not held accountable regarding hours worked, but my actual output and quality of the deliverables that I provide (whether I worked 12 hours in a day or just 4).

One very important aspect is ethics and organizational culture. One needs to know that you can plug in to a game during work hours and spend half the day trying to beat the record. But having the friendly 10 min match during lunch break (or in-between 2 hour meetings) I do agree that it does lead to greater productivity, since it avoids fatigue.

I do think that leadership has a huge role. I worked for a small/single owner company and he literally demanded down to the second.... short story is I didn't last there much.
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