The impact of temperature on gaming productivity: evidence from online games

  • Xiaojia Bao
  • Qingliang FanEmail author


This paper studies the short-run impacts of temperature on human performance in the computer-mediated environment using server logs of a popular online game in China. Taking advantage of the quasi-experiment of winter central heating policy in China, we distinguish the impacts of outdoor and indoor temperature and find that low temperatures below 5 \(^{\circ }\)C decrease game performance significantly. Non-experienced players suffered larger performance drop than experienced ones. Access to central heating attenuates negative impacts of low outdoor temperatures on gamers’ performance. High temperatures above 21 \(^{\circ }\)C also lead to drops in game performance. We conclude that expanding the current central heating zone will bring an increase in human performance by approximately 4% in Shanghai and surrounding provinces in the winter. While often perceived as a leisure activity, online gaming requires intense engagement and the deployment of cognitive, social, and motor skills, which are also key skills for productive activities. Our results draw attention to potential damages of extreme temperature on human performance in the modern computer-mediated environment.


Temperature Human performance Online game Heating 

JEL codes:

Q54 J22 J24 D03 


Compliance with ethical standards


Bao’s research was funded by the Social Science Foundation of Fujian Province in China (No. FJ2015C150), University Grant of Xiamen University (No. 20720151030), Science Foundation of Fujian Province in China (No. 2017J05117), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71703136). Fan’s research, in part, was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Grants 71671149 and 71631004 (Key Project) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 20720171042).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE) and School of EconomicsXiamen UniversityXiamenChina

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