For some students, video games may be a way to cope with the stress of college. However, this medium could impact productivity in different ways.
With access to video games, students could resort to procrastination when working on their class assignments.
Kendall Gerdes, assistant professor in the Texas Tech Department of English, said she teaches a class which consists of studying video game composition. She said when students feel anxious about a writing assignment, video games could be a method of procrastination.
“Video games are, I think, a kind of natural choice for procrastinators because they’re rewarding, and they alleviate anxiety when you succeed,” she said. “The stakes of failure of most video games are very low, and so it’s kind of the opposite of the feelings that we have about writing.”
Depending on one’s personality, Gerdes said a student may choose to procrastinate with video games rather than other forms of media.
“Because they’re a little bit more active, that might be something students want, or procrastinators want,” she said regarding how people may choose to play video games over watching television or reading. “Maybe you want that kind of engagement, and it’s a more effective distraction.”
However, Gerdes said video games do not always interfere with educational productivity, so long as students can train themselves to take shorter breaks.
Along with the distractions video games could cause, Gerdes said certain video games, such as those that are more relaxing, could help students stay focused. Taking short video game breaks in-between studying is a technique she said is a good study habit.
“That can be motivating too,” Gerdes said regarding the short video game breaks between study sessions. “You’re thinking if I get through this chunk, if I get to my next break, then I can do the thing I want to do.”
Regardless of why a student may choose to procrastinate with video games, time management skills could also be a factor in a gamer’s school productivity.
Jimmy Sanderson, assistant professor in sports management, said he will be working on research focused on video game effects on student athletes. He said how one utilizes their time when playing video games can depend on how they act.
“I would say it’s more personality traits,” he said. “How are they as a multi-tasker, how are they with time management.”
In addition to one’s personality, Sanderson said another factor to consider when determining if video games negatively impact productivity is the social connections a person makes through gaming.
“It’s not just a fad,” he said. “Colleges and universities need to think strategically in terms of how to help students manage it and also resources for students who may have addiction-type issues.”
Regardless of how video games impact a student’s focus on assignments, the reasons one plays video games could differ among people.
Due to generational differences, Sanderson said college students now perceive video games differently than people of previous generations.
“When I was a kid, my parents, all they said was how bad video games were,” he said. “Now, you literally have people who can make millions of dollars playing video games.”
Depending on the type of gamer, video games could impact productivity in a variety of ways.
Guy Bao, senior chemistry major from Houston and president of the Tech eSports Association, said the effect of video games on school productivity can differ between casual gamers and professional gamers who play competitively.
“I think if you’re a casual player, that doesn’t seep into productivity that much,” he said. “Going into professional, competitive gaming, that side is more of you have to put time in.”
Bao said competitive players can put in a lot of hours practicing one video game. He said frustration could result from these long practicing sessions.
“If you’re giving a lot of time into your craft and practicing your game, and you don’t get results, then you get frustrated,” Bao said.
Along with practicing many hours to improve his skills in a video game, Bao said he also has experienced this frustration.
“After two or three hours of playing, I’ve gained nothing from this practice session, and I want to keep playing more,” he said. “You start allocating time to practicing more, and that takes away time from other aspects of your life, like your social life with friends or academia, and that can hinder school work.”
For video games to be a beneficial medium, Bao said a student needs to find balance between school work, gaming and one’s personal life.
As people have to take time out of their day and find balance within their schedule to play video games, Bao said he considers gaming a sport. Similar to how a sport can be a stress reliever for students, he said video games could help students relax.
“If there’s a balance between all those aspects, then it’s a healthy relationship for your schoolwork, video games and anything else,” Bao said. “But if there’s an imbalance—too much schoolwork, too much video games, then it tips the scale on one side or the other, and that can have a negative impact on a student’s life.”