A new study suggests that rather than sticking corporate teams in rooms to fall on each other a bunch, companies should just have employees play video games.
For gamers, this probably doesn’t come as much surprise. Tons of games these days involve relying on teammates to accomplish an objective -usually killing everyone on the opposite team in one gruesome way or another, but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that games teach people how to be a team player with total strangers.
At least, that was the theory. Now we’ve got some hard data to back up the anecdotal evidence.
Researchers from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah have found that having total strangers play video games really does help with team cohesion and produces a noticeable productivity boost.
The proof is in the pudding. Or rather, an elaborate experiment involving 353 students who were divided into 80 teams and then told to go geocaching.
If you haven’t heard of geocaching, it’s essentially just a high-tech scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates and some clues. None of the teams knew anyone else in the experiment, so there was no chance that someone would get paired to someone they’re familiar with.
During the scavenger hunt, teams were told to take periodic 45-minute breaks to perform one of three tasks. The control group did nothing -they just quietly did some homework. Another group did traditional team-building exercises like sitting around and talking about their feelings or whatever, while the third group just played games like Halo 4 or Rock Band for those 45 minutes.
What researchers found was that the gamers performed 20% better than the traditional team-building group during the scavenger hunt. This implies that rather than having teams spend all afternoon talking, companies should just put them in a room to play video games instead.
“To see that big of a jump — especially for the amount of time they played — was a little shocking,” study co-author Greg Anderson told My Good Planet. “Companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on team-building activities, and I’m thinking, go buy an Xbox.”
The researchers concluded that more study is needed, but ask a gamer and they’ll tell you this was a long-solved problem that corporate America just doesn’t want to believe.