Video games are good for you, especially at work, study says

A recent study by the University of Colorado has found that video games create better employees. There's also new research that shows games work as well as aspirin on pain. Both projects came to light through the Entertainment Software Association -- an organization dedicated to proving that gaming is very, very good for you.

The University of Colorado Denver Business School found that those who used video games for on-the-job training "do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than workers learning in less interactive, more passive environments," a report on the study says.

Traci Sitzmann, PhD, assistant professor of management, spent more than a year combing through data from 65 video training studies involving 6,476 participants. She found that those who trained by games scored up to 14 percent higher for factual knowledge, skills, and retention than the trainees taught by non-game methods.

"Cold Stone Creamery, after losing money on workers serving up too much ice cream, created an interactive video game that taught them how much should go into each scoop. Miller Brewing Company is developing a game called Tips on Tap that shows bartenders how to pour the perfect glass of beer. They lose points if the mug hits the tap where it could become contaminated," Sitzmann's report says.

Cold Stone Creamery licked employee scoop mistakes with a video game.

But why stop with training? Couldn't video games enhance the day-to-day work experience just as much? Maybe companies should put an Xbox 360 into every break room next to the coffee pot. Instead of tanking up on a 3 p.m. hit of caffeine, employees could take a Halo break and return all trained up for that next project team meeting.

Combining an Xbox with coffee could be the ultimate productivity booster

Need more excuses to play more? The American Pain Society earlier this year showcased two research projects at its last annual meeting that found virtual reality video games to be as helpful as pain relievers. Jeffrey Gold, Ph.D and Lynnda Dahlquist, Ph.D, discussed two independent projects.

Gold's study is funny in a glad-it's-you-and-not-me kind of way. He got a bunch of volunteers to play racing games, and then he hurt them. He measured the effects of pain stimuli on their brain while playing the games versus the effects while not playing. Guess which one hurt more?

He used "thermal pain and cold pressure tests" (otherwise known as ice and ice water). Participants playing games were able to ignore the pain longer than those not so distracted. "The focus is drawn to the game not the pain or the medical procedure, while the virtual reality experience engages visual and other senses,” he said.

Dahlquist studied children, also exposing them to cold. She found that those playing video games showed increase tolerance to cold water. Those wearing video helmets were able to ignore pain for a significantly longer period of time.

She says the finding holds promise for kids with chronic acute illness. Video games could become part of the prescribed treatment. “My genuine hope is that virtual reality activity can alleviate the anxiety of approaching pain and the pain experience itself,” she said.

What this means is, parents, when your kids are sick, forget the chicken soup, break out the Call of Duty. Don't worry, the ESA also has research proving that violent video games are fine for kids too.