Research Tells Us Video Games at Work May Be a Very Good Idea

If you have a phone and you play video games, there’s a good chance you already sneak game breaks occasionally during the work day, undoubtedly only during your regular, authorized break periods. In case it comes up, science has your back.

In a study recently published in Human Factors, “Searching for Affective and Cognitive Restoration: Examining the Restorative Effects of Casual Video Game Play,” researchers found that video game breaks can be beneficial when it comes to workday stress, mood and cognitive performance.

66 participants took on work designed to cause cognitive fatigue, then took a five minute break. During their break, participants either sat quietly in the testing room without access to a phone or computer, partook in a guided relaxation activity, or played Sushi Cat.

Researchers tested stress level, mood, and cognitive performance as they went. They found that those who took the silent break felt less engaged with work and more worried, whereas the relaxation activity left participants feeling less negative affect (or lower stress levels) and distress. Participants who kicked back with Sushi Cat actually reported feeling better after the break, on the other hand.

Michael Rupp, a doctoral student in human factors and cognitive psychology at the University of Central Florida, notes, “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.”

So there you have it: science suggests that game breaks might be good breaks. Recharge away, if your workplace allows.