Skip to main content

Gaming could help slay procrastination, University of Sask. researcher says

 A University of Saskatchewan researcher says contrary to what many believe, video games aren't a drain on productivity and may actually help gamers achieve more once they set their controllers down.

A special lecturer in computer science at the university, Cody Phillips said his work is looking specifically at how to help people become more motivated.

“I'm investigating whether or not video games can be used as a way to help people to overcome procrastination,” he told CTV News.

The research is partly inspired by Phillips' experience at the start of the pandemic, where he found small video game breaks while working in isolation seemed to increase his productivity.

He and his team have been given a $25,000 grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The money will sustain the research for the next five years.

"I believe that if we use video games in the right way, that we can turn the problem into a solution," he said.

Phillips said he believed it was important to first understand procrastination.

“One of the reasons people generally procrastinate is because they are experiencing some sort of negative emotionality. If you're in a negative emotion, you tend to procrastinate. And so I believe that if we can kind of avoid those negative emotions through video games, then we can kind of get people to stop procrastinating.”

He said that there are already video games on the market that could serve this purpose.

“I think that a lot of games are already kind of doing this at the moment. It's just that people are often playing the wrong games in order to get this effect.”

According to Phillips, many games are designed to be played for an infinite amount of time.

“You can always play a new match or a new sort of level. I think that if we kind of reframe how we interact with games and just set goals for ourselves, like saying, 'I'm only going to play for one level,' I think we should be able to help people to break out of play and get back to whatever it is they need to be working on,” he said, adding it required some intentionality.

The idea stems from other work Phillips has done in helping people to overcome trauma or difficult experiences.

“For example, people who have played video games to overcome the death of a loved one and some rather heavy sort of topics like that. Continually I see this pattern of people using video games to effectively cope with and recover from difficult life events.”

He said he believed that video games can help people become more resilient.

“I believe that video games can also help people to sort of bounce back and beyond and kind of become even better through play. I'm trying to explore some of those benefits now as well.” Top Stories

Stay Connected