While more than half of American adults now play games on a regular basis (and this holds true for men and women), there are still many cynics. After all, games are still more likely to conjure up images of hyperactive preteen boys wasting hours of their time on front of screens than adults engage in serious work. Nevertheless, there is ample reason to embrace gaming as a serious way to gain new skills. Indeed, today, serious games are rapidly becoming one of the training sector’s most powerful tools. Today’s post outlines why gaming and training increasingly are practices seen to go hand in hand.
1. Games are Addictive
Game-based learning, like games in general, can be addictive. While the addictive nature of games is often attacked (and in some cases, it’s a serious problem), when it comes to training, creating a platform to which employees are excited to return again and again is a bonus. The major problem faced by trainers is completion of training modules. Serious games are one way to effectively tackle this problem.
2. Games are Applicable to Real World Situations
Well-designed serious games enable students to grasp complex concepts and develop new skills. Because they are learning these concepts and skills in an interactive environment, they can also immediately put these concepts and skills to work in life-like situations. This is not the case with a traditional textbook or even training video. As 3-D games gain traction, the life-like situations available to trainees also continues to expand.
3. Game-based Training is Linked to Task Mastery
In games, there are levels and objectives; these elements encourage learners to keep trying until they’ve mastered a task. There is growing evidence that when employers deploy serious games as a training tool, employees also strive harder to master tasks on the job too. Trial and error becomes the new normal in the workplace.
4. Games Offer Immediate Feedback
In a game environment, feedback is instantaneous. You know if you’re winning or losing. You know if you’re making progress towards your goal or falling behind. This constant monitoring is a motivational factor for employees. Introducing games also has an added benefit in this respect: It makes employees crave ongoing feedback and view it as a necessity rather than an intrusion. In other words, serious games are also helping to normalize constant feedback in the workplace.
5. Games Promote Multi-tasking
In most games, players must juggle multiple inputs at once (e.g., run while dodging falling objects and oncoming invaders). Today, more than every before, multitasking is also required on the job. In this sense, serious games accurately mimic most contemporary workplaces too and promote multitasking in a highly engaging and interactive environment.
6. Games are Interactive
Games are never a form of one-to-many communication (e.g., like television or film or radio) but always interactive. In short, players must be engaged in making the game too. In training scenarios, this empowers employees to be involved in training on a new level—to be engaged in creating the training narrative. With serious gaming, the idea of the passive trainee (the trainee who simply listens and takes notes) is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
7. Games are Collaborative
One of the most notable benefits of serious games is their collaborative nature. There is a growing body of evidence that people who excel in serious game environments also work better in collaborative environments. In short, serious games are helping workers develop the skills needed to think and create more effectively with their peers.
8. Serious Games are Linked to Innovation
In serious games, it is possible to put one’s employees in adverse situations—to place them in scenarios where multiple variables challenge them to respond to new and high-stakes situations. As a result, serious games are also linked to promoting innovative thinking and doing. They challenge workers to think outside the box and struggle to find solutions to even the most perplexing problems.