Playing computer games can improve office team work, according to new research
That's according to a new study from Brigham Young University (BYU), which suggests that just 45 minutes of playing a squad game of PUBG, Fortnite or Halo 4 can improve productivity by up to 20 per cent.
"To see that big 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."
The researchers recruited 352 individuals and randomly organised them into 80 teams, making sure no participants with pre-existing relationships were on the same team.
Companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on team-building activities, and I'm thinking, go buy an Xbox
The teams were tested before and after participating in a number of activities, including video gaming, with a competitive ‘geocaching' exercise called Findamine, which gives participants short, text-based clues to find landmarks. Contestants were given cash rewards for wins.
Geocaching is an exercise in which GPS systems are used by participants to find objects.
After a first round of Findamine, teams were randomly assigned to one of three activities - team video gaming, "quiet homework" or a "goal training" discussion on improving their geocaching skills - before they were given another geocaching exercise to see how much they may have improved.
The researchers found that while the goal-training teams reported a higher increase in team cohesion than the video-gaming teams, the video gamers increased actual performance on their second round of Findamine significantly, raising average scores from 435 to 520.
Team video gaming may truly be a viable - and perhaps even optimal - alternative for team building
"Team video gaming may truly be a viable - and perhaps even optimal - alternative for team building," said lead researcher Mark Keith, associate professor of information systems at BYU.
Furthermore, the researchers claimed that participants don't need to be keen computer gamers to see the positive effects of team gaming; they claim that video game novices established communications norms, and built working relationships, even quicker with new teammates in order to learn the nuances of the game.
Computer games like Fortnite and PUBG, especially when played in squads of two or four, rather than single-player, test people's ability to make snap decisions and to work together in an acute environment.
Players must be prepared to both give and receive clear instructions from team mates, and work together towards a common goal. They test players' judgement and their analyses of situations - as well as their reflexes.
Indeed, games like PUBG aren't purely a test of reflexes, but also often reward players who avoid combat or think their way round obstacles. Even players that have been killed off can continue to participate by acting as a second pair of eyes and providing tactical ideas and insights less filtered by the stresses of playing the game.
The study has been published in AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction.