Corporate training gamification and game-based learning are becoming the gold standard for training. As we discussed in our post, “Boost Compliance Training Effectiveness Through Gamification,” learning programs using game-based thinking and mechanics have the potential to motivate and promote learning, and help learners develop problem-solving skills. Whether they take part in immersive learning or simple games, learners have fun experiences and can learn from mistakes while receiving coaching and feedback in real time.
But can gaming provide skills training that truly impacts behavior and job performance? Would you trust your neurosurgeon if you discovered that one of their training tools included playing a mobile game? That’s exactly what the work of video game vendors such as this one are attempting to prove. Medical practitioners are encouraged to develop a variety of critical health service skills while playing video games on their mobile devices.
Why Is Gaming So Effective?
According to this USA Today article, the basis of effective learning is one that leverages the “burst of happiness and joy and dopamine” the learner receives from playing games. When games and learning are combined they can facilitate the transfer of knowledge in ways that would otherwise be tedious if attempted through rote memorization. L&D leaders understand that learning engagement depends entirely on learners’ willingness to interact with the material. Therefore, games that offer players the opportunity to make decisions and feel the impact of those decisions are most effective. These learning experiences encourage absorption of content and can have a significant impact on behavioral changes in the real world.
Games act as a kind of coaching device, drawing learners in with immersive experiences—but without the need for an active coach to be present. Instead, the desire to play games encourages learners to continually return and repeat experiences to improve their skills. Because games are so addictive, it’s more likely that learners will actively seek out game-based learning experiences and consume them on their own time.
Healthy Competition to Attract Gamers (But With a Purpose)
Gamification elements such as leaderboards and badging support engagement by tapping into the desire to compete. Gamification uses game-like mechanics to elevate traditional eLearning programs to incentivize participation through positive reinforcement and rewards. However, there is an added benefit to both gamification of eLearning and game-based learning models. By providing a community of players, learners from anywhere in the world can connect with each other—both through healthy competition and by sharing knowledge and resources.
The secret to many existing games and gaming platforms is how they use communities to connect players. It’s not entirely about competition. For example, online social networks come together to help each other solve problems in a game, provide feedback to each other, and help new players get into the game faster. Like that level in a game you just can’t seem to figure out, you can always rely on a user-generated walk-through of the scenario to give you the clues and knowledge you need to progress. In this same way, corporate game-based learning can provide a platform for your employees to connect and work together.
Gamification Will Be Part of Immersive Learning
As technology evolves, opportunities to elevate learning programs multiply. We are witnessing evolution at a rapid pace when we look at the growing trend of immersive learning using technologies such as VR, AR, and the culmination of it all—the metaverse. What we’re seeing is really the movement of traditional eLearning into the 21st century—and it’s gamified! Take a look at any immersive learning program or metaverse application, and you’ll see immediately how these platforms resemble video games. Learners can move through open worlds and virtual environments, make decisions, interact with other avatars, etc.
As your organization’s learning needs shift over the coming years, it’s important to take these technology advancements into consideration. What may today be “fun to have” in terms of game-based learning for your L&D programs, in five or ten years may be a necessity.
What To Consider Before Building a Game
Many organizations may rush to develop games because they seem like fun. However, games also need to serve your learners’ needs and align with your learning strategy and business goals. Learners should feel confident that they’re receiving critical training to upgrade the skills that will positively impact their work and careers. And your business needs to understand the impact that game-based learning has on the bottom line. While it may be appealing to jump into the gamification market, take the time to do the due diligence required to ensure that you’re taking the right course of action.
Your instructional designers need to be ready to help your learning programs evolve at pace alongside the development of new learning technologies. They must understand why game mechanics are so effective at delivering learning experiences and how to build content within this highly technical space.
There are many options available that vary in complexity and cost. At the same time, analyze your learners’ needs to ensure that each employee has equal access to game content. Not everyone has the types of devices required to access a game platform, such as VR headsets or AR-enabled smartphones. Consult with a specialist to understand what learning programs are best suited for game-based learning. Together we can investigate your options to determine whether gamification and game-based learning are your best solution.