LIVE. WORK. PLAY.
March 18, 2022
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
As the lines between work and home continue to blur and the world begins to step out of the pandemic, Ryan Lim, Director of Engineering, Practice, reflects on the incredible power of gaming and play; and how it not only helped him restore work-life balance but make work feel less like work.
As we continue to embrace remote-first at Connected, one thing that seems more apparent is how the lines between work and life continue to blend. As the home shifts into a home office, I start to realize that even outside work hours, even with my laptop closed, my mind continues to shift into work mode automatically. And I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing.
Thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic, what felt like “home arrest,” I, like many of you – had a lot of time on my hands – a lot. I no longer needed to spend over 3.5 hours travelling to and from the office every day. Now, some people read more, and other people watched a lot more TV. Me; I chose to fan the flames of my love for games. I told myself that it was finally time to catch up with my growing “library,” and to be honest, it was one of the best decisions I made.
Games allowed my mind to shift into a world outside the confines of my home and put the balance back in my work-life balance.
I have been an avid gamer my entire life. I play equally as much on my PS5 as I do on PC (I even built my own gaming PC with a GTX 1080 TI a few years back), and to any gamers wondering, yes, I do prefer PC, but I can’t pass up an amazing console exclusive.
Now, ask any gamer past the age of 20, and they’ve likely heard this before (myself included): Aren’t you a little too old to still be gaming?
To that, I usually reply with one of my favourite quotes from George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
And if you look at the rise in popularity of video games since the pandemic, I don’t think I’m the only one who shares that sentiment.
It’s not only traditional video games but multiplayer, online games have also significantly grown their player base. Watching competitive teams play on games like Dota 2, League of Legends, or Counter Strike, you would be surprised at how impressive the coordination and communication levels that the teams have. I can’t help but think that as companies continue to struggle to create a better collaboration environment for employees, they might benefit from taking a few cues from the world of competitive online games. But I’ll get into a bit more of that later.
During the pandemic, the at-home fitness market exploded; however, for many living in urban areas, the reality was that purchasing and finding space for a treadmill, stationary bike, and other exercise equipment simply wasn’t a viable option. Fortunately, yet again, video games saved the day. From Zumba, yoga, boxing, and seemingly everything in between, the options available to stay fit via a video game platform is truly remarkable. And if I’m being honest, I was hesitant at first, especially when I saw the Ring Fit for the Nintendo Switch. However, my skepticism was quickly dispelled as my heartbeat rose and my shirt began to dampen no less than 5-minutes into my first workout.
Earlier, I mentioned that businesses could benefit from learning a few things from competitive online gaming, but I’d like to broaden that statement by saying that businesses could benefit dramatically by bringing the gaming mindset into their workspace.
Mark Rober, a famous YouTuber and former NASA and Apple engineer, did an incredible TEDx Talk titled “The Super Mario Effect – Tricking Your Brain into Learning More.” In it, he proposes that gamification, more specifically, “reframing challenges as games,” can be a valuable tool for increasing learning capacity, helping ensure that people follow through while learning complex concepts. To reaffirm his notion, Rober tells about a social experiment he organized where people played a special game he designed, with some subjects not being awarded points and others having points taken away for failed attempts.
The results were astounding, with twice as many people finishing the work at hand when they weren’t even aware of the point system. This led Rober to the very simple but profound concept – when the motivator is “fun” and not “pressure,” the completion rates of tasks are higher.
So how does that apply to your professional life?
By reframing everyday tasks with a game mindset, you’d be amazed at how quickly work can start to feel less like work.
Make a game out of trying to match your UI to the designer’s version. Can you bear your current test coverage “high score?” What about maintaining that green status streak for as long as possible. Maybe you’d prefer to view features and epics as the levels you need to pass that lead up to the boss. You can even consider the bug fixes as side quests!
Those are just a few examples of ways you can change your mindset, and while the task of doing so may seem small, the rewards for doing so, especially in product development, are exponential. Because when you create an environment that not only encourages but helps facilitate play and all the benefits that gaming has to offer, not only will it improve the employee experience, but that value will transfer into the product being developed every time.
I consider myself fortunate that I work for a company like Connected that does just that, as well as providing the flexibility of remote-first work so you can spend more time doing what you love; and I’m guessing that’s not commuting into the office.
Now, would you kindly, live, work, and most of all, play. You’ll thank me later.
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