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Can Candy Crush help with work life balance?



I love playing Sushi Toss on my iPad. It's uncomplicated fun! However, I'd rather spend my time hearing about my kid's day or catching up on phone calls with friends. So, I keep my game playing to a minimal.

Still, I can see the mindless appeal and I could see how it helps some people create a better work life balance. This week, I interviewed a few gamers and had to laugh when I hung up the phone. Boy some people really get into playing online games! I could hear the excitement in their voices as I conducted the interview and they explained the appeal of Candy Crush, Mafia Wars or World of Tanks and why they spend hours playing them. Sure, some of these people may be addicted, but as long as gameplay does cause harm to their home lives or careers, I say "enjoy!"


Here's my take on online gaming from today's Miami Herald. Do you think playing online games is a waste of time?

Are online games a waste of time or relief for the mind?

 <span class="cutline_leadin">FUN AND GAMES:</span> A smartphone user plays the ‘Candy Crush Saga’ puzzle.



After a day of negotiating legal contracts, Gail Serota sinks into her couch with her iPad and immerses herself in playing Candy Crush. The Miami real estate attorney finds playing the mobile game relaxes her. "It's a good stress relief."

Whether for relaxation or diversion, full time workers are squeezing time into their schedules for mobile games. They are launching flying birds, flicking onscreen candies and building words on virtual boards using their smartphones or tablets. Spil Games reports about 700 million people play online games, or about 44 percent of the world’s online population. And those numbers are expected to rise.

The habit can be addictive — and not just for actor Alex Baldwin, who was kicked off a plane for refusing to turn off his phone in the middle of a Words with Friends match. Other players admit to being so immersed they have left their children stranded at sports practices, gone late to work and even injured themselves as they tried to reach new levels of play.

Serota of Weiss Serota Helfman reluctantly acknowledges that at times, she has become so caught up in completing a level of Candy Crush that she has arrived late at an event. “When you’re in the moment, you’re focusing on the game and you’re just not thinking about other things.”

Not long ago, most gamers were young men playing on at-home consoles. Now, the advent of smartphones and tablets has changed gaming so much so that 46 percent of players are women, according to Spil Games’ 2013 state of online gaming report.

“We have so much on our minds and just want an escape,” says Marci Siegel, a medical recruiter and working mom who enjoys Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Siegel estimates she spends about seven hours a week playing the games on her phone. “Sometimes, my day is so crazy that I need a little guilty pleasure.”

Critics contend online games are a time waster. Gamers argue it brings balance to their lives by offering entertainment, stress relief, social connections and mental stimulation. For players that log in with Facebook or Google Plus, the games allow friendly competition and social interaction.

Recognizing the appeal, employers have begun finding ways to leverage gaming in the workplace. Tapping experts, they are designing games to motivate workers, recruit talent, teach new skills, boost performance and encourage wellness.