Get All Access for $5/mo

Can Video Games in the Office Make Employees More Productive? Hip startup employees have been known to enjoy digital entertainment at work, but does it actually have a positive effect on employees?

By Ken Lin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most days around our office, you'll find a big gathering at 4 p.m. for Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. on the projector wall. This isn't because everyone is goofing off. Believe it or not, there is a lot more to it than that.

Tech companies, especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area, may have a natural affinity for playing video games, but there are a lot of benefits for any company to consider gaming in the workplace.

For starters, video games are a fun way to decompress. Most can be played in three- to 10-minute increments, so they're effective for shorter or longer breaks. And any break, even if just a few minutes away from your desk, is helpful to get your circulation flowing and improve concentration.

Related: 3 Things Video Games Can Teach You About Being a Better Business Leader

While many employers may see breaks as precious time away from doing actual work, I've found they can improve employees' productivity. Gaming may promote a little R&R, but it can have many more lasting benefits to a company.

Bonding over Mortal Kombat. Not to be overlooked is the social aspect to gaming at work. The beauty is that games bring people together who would not normally interact, and other times, people who regularly work together get to let loose and have some fun.

Without any calculated effort, there is organic team-building as people rally around the game. With my company currently undergoing a huge growth spurt (we doubled in size in 2013 and will close to triple this year), it's encouraging to see relationships forged and gaps bridged so quickly.

I personally enjoy gathering with employees to play a round -- it's allowed everyone to get to know each other in a more relaxed environment. The end result is a united team, at all levels of the company.

Exercise your mind. Video games also offer mental stimulation, which we often interpret as simply a break from our hectic days and the consuming nature of work. However, the benefits can far exceed a mental break -- gaming can exercise your brain or even improve your mental acuity.

Related: Great at World of Warcraft? Put It on Your Resume.

A 2013 study found that real-time strategy games, such as StarCraft II, can improve your cognitive flexibility, the ability to allocate your brain's resources under changing circumstances. In other words, decision-making in real time. StarCraft is all about resource allocation, knowing what your competitors are doing at any given moment and quickly reacting.

From virtual to reality. Aside from the therapeutic, social and cognitive values, certain games can help train us for the business world. When it comes to resource allocation, what if the minerals that you're managing in StarCraft were dollars? What if your multiplayer opponents were an analogue of our real-world competitors?

What's happening in games can be representative of the challenges we face, and the strategies and tactics we need to exercise in our work. In both contexts, you are problem solving, trying to do things in the fastest, most optimal ways, and in an elegant fashion.

Press start. While games today are much more sophisticated than the arcade games that surfaced decades ago, all offer fun interlaced with varying degrees of strategy and understanding your opponent. Many people will find simple enjoyment and escape with video games, with the added benefit of varying degrees of mental stimulation and exercise.

Video games achieve a lot in a very natural way, so you should perhaps consider setting up some games in your office. Who can argue with something that's fun, relieves stress, unites a company and could offer intellectual gains?

Related: 3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Video Games

Ken Lin

Co-founder and CEO of Credit Karma

Ken Lin is the CEO, co-founder and chief consumer advocate of Credit Karma, a personal finance company dedicated to helping consumers better understand the power of their credit and overall financial health. Lin started Credit Karma with a mission to change how people interact with their finances, making them easier to manage and more transparent. Prior to Credit Karma, he founded Multilytics Marketing, a data-driven marketing agency that actively manages more than $40 million a year in online marketing dollars for clients such as Wells Fargo, Liberty Mutual and eBay.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.