During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I think about playing computer games for a short period of time in order to recharge some energy between exhausting tasks.
If you really have to focus on a certain task, it’s easy to loose concentration after few hours of working. At this point, it’s often useful to make a short break in order to regain some energy and to keep the concentration high. In best cases the break should have no correlation with the task and allow the brain to relax a bit from the original task.
Playing computer games could be one of the very helpful options to allow the brain to completely stop thinking about the main task and to recharge some energy. The highly immersive environment of video games allows the player to focus on the gameplay and to stop thinking about the original problem he was working on. Playing a game for 10 – 15 minutes can be really refreshing and help to get back a clear view on the task, because it allows to gain a bit of a distance to the problem.
However, the game shouldn’t be a real time investment in any case. It should just help to completely switch off and think about a completely different situation. In this case, going on a raid or instance run in an MMORPG would be the wrong approach because this would take too much time. On the other hand, I’m not only talking about so called „casual“ games like Bejeweled or Angry Birds.
The best possible game should allow the player to jump right away into the action without too many preparations. On the other hand, the gameplay should be also quite „short“ or allow an easy stop so that the player isn’t in danger to get lost in the virtual world.
The first example I like to present is the round-based strategy game „Civilization V“ (Civ V). In Civ V the player leads a nation from prehistoric times to the future and tries to achieve one of several victory options. The gameplay of Civ V is almost like chess: once the player has done all his decisions, he ends the turn and the other nations get their turns. Each round can be seen as a complete game session because every round has a clear beginning and a clear ending. This would allow the player to play a few rounds and easily finish the game break, because all actions are done once the end of a turn is reached.
The next example are action-adventures like „Diablo III“. This option is a quite risky one, because it’s very easy to get lost in the game. „Just one more group …“, but with enough discipline, these games can work just as well. The gameplay doesn’t need much preparation. Once the player has started the game, he can jump right away into the next group of evil monsters. Furthermore, the game has no clear ending–it’s more about killing an infinite amount of enemies and collecting new equipment. This endless flow of action can also be easily separated: the player just can make his way through one level and then stop playing without missing anything.
The last example I like to mention are racing games like „DiRT 3“ or „Assetto Corsa“. The good thing about these racing simulations is, that they take place on finite race tracks. Additionally, it is pretty easy to set up a race and drive around the race track or race against computer controlled opponents. Furthermore, these realistic driving games require the complete focus of the player to keep the car under control. This immersion catches the player immediately and completely disctracts the player from the original work. On the other hand, once a short race is finished and the results are displayed, the player gets immediately out of the immersion, but feels more refreshed and can start working again on his original task.
As a result, playing for a few minutes the right computer game could be quite refreshing and even improve the work performance. The intense gameplay allows the player to completely switch off from the exhausting work and regain some energy. Once a short game session is finished, the player can return back to work and even might have a completely different view on the task.