Gaming during Wednesday (Reinecke, 2009)

This is an addendum to Jamie Madigan’s Psychology of Video Games post on the use of video games for recovering from work-related stress. Now go read his post and come back here.

Madigan wrote about one of Leonard Reinecke’s (Hamburg Media School, University of Hamburg) study which was focused on playing videogames after work or daily hassles. Reinecke has published a second similar study, but the focus is on the time spent playing videogames during work. Companies and work-obsessive professors loathe their subordinates wasting their time doing stuff other than work, “cyber-slacking” as it is called.


The present study investigated the recreational use of video and computer games in the workplace. In an online survey, 833 employed users of online casual games reported on their use of computer games during working hours. The data indicate that playing computer games in the workplace elicits substantial levels of recovery experience. Recovery experience associated with gameplay was the strongest predictor for the use of games in the workplace. Furthermore, individuals with higher levels of work-related fatigue reported stronger recovery experience during gameplay and showed a higher tendency to play games during working hours than did persons with lower levels of work strain. Additionally, the social situation at work was found to have a significant influence on the use of games. Persons receiving less social support from colleagues and supervisors played games at work more frequently than did individuals with higher levels of social support. Furthermore, job control was positively related to the use of games at work. In sum, the results of the present study illustrate that computer games have a significant recovery potential. Implications of these findings for research on personal computer use during work and for games research in general are discussed.

I’ll dispense with some of the literature review since Madigan had it covered. He didn’t mention the fourth recovery experience “control” where one feels has a firm hand on his leisure activity on what he wants to do or in the case of videogames of what he does in the game, i.e. getting achievements, setting his pace, loading his favourite level or toying with an easy A.I.

"Yeah, I'm going to need you to stop playing that videogame and work on that TPS report. That'd be great." Bill Lumbergh (Office Space)


Participants: 833 German participants surveyed. This sample is different from the first in that it has a higher ratio of women participants (53.5% vs. 3.7%) and an older sample (M = 35.1 vs. 22.8). Additionally, the sample is drawn from a variety of professions, ranging from retail to health care. So, this study has good generalization value. This was not investigated on the first study. I could speculate that the first study consisted mostly of male students, starting around high school since the youngest surveyed was 12 years old.


The same measures from the first study for work-related fatigue, recovery and social support were used. In addition, a job control measure was used.

The videogame play measure was tuned for this particular study in that it asked how often they played (from never to daily) during work in addition to what stressful situations they would play videogames.


Under half (46.6%) of the participants reported playing during working hours and 10% reported playing on a daily basis.

The analysis confirms pretty much what’s being said in Madigan’s post. Of those of who played during work, this was experienced as acts of psychological detachment, relaxation, mastery, and control. Interestingly, those who experienced higher levels of work stress are more likely to play videogames during work hours which is in contrast with the first study’s opposite direction. However, it may not be contradictory since the second study is concerned with casual gaming during work, although we don’t know about the sample in the first study’s playing habits, it’s very possible they’re referring to console and computer games and it is concerned on leisure time after work.

With this article in mind, we can be rest assured that playing videogames on a busy Wednesday can give us the extra energy and motivation to grind that TPS report or essay.

Reinecke, L. (2009). Games at work: The recreational use of computer games during work hours. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12 (4), 461-465. Doi: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0010


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