11 Common Challenges You May Face During Serious Games Development

Designing Digitally


Serious Games Development

In the form of serious games, game-based learning is one of the most efficient employee training methods. Many companies are adopting this learning and development style into their culture and reaping the many benefits it can bring. Integrating serious games in corporate training will:

  • Delivers learning in a fun, familiar way

  • Help employees put newly learned concepts and acquired skills into practice 

  • Deeply engage players and inspire them to exceed expectations

  • Create a connection on an emotional level due to a learner-centered gaming approach

  • Break down complicated theories into easily digestible micromodules

  • Enable employees to conquer real-world challenges by providing job-specific obstacles and situations to be solved, thus improving job performance

  • Empower employees towards objective self-assessment

  • Provide an interactive learning experience that helps keep engagement and interest high

This is not an exhaustive list. The advantages of using serious games will be different based on your employee learning goals and business growth objectives. However, developing a serious game comes with many challenges. Being aware of the challenges will keep you one step ahead of the curve and help you problem-solve whatever issues might arise in the process. Here is a list of 11 challenges to anticipate and circumvent.

1. Balancing the fun factor with educational value

One of the biggest challenges of serious game implementation is harmonizing the game’s fun with how educational you want it to be. Establishing learning objectives from the get-go and designing a visually appealing game can help balance things out and get you on the right path. Serious game development gets more manageable if you know what you want to obtain at the end of training and let your employees know the learning expectations. As they say, "Luck favors the prepared!" So, make sure you do the proper conceptualization and planning in the beginning stages.

2. Choosing the right eLearning platforms

Serious games can run online or offline, and you can make them available on learners’ computers, mobile devices, or virtual reality headsets. Each platform will offer a different gaming experience. It is essential to establish your delivery platforms early on to tailor your development strategy around them. Employees will likely enjoy the ability to access the content on multiple platforms. They will be able to engage with the learning simulation in their own time and at their own pace. This empowers learners to take charge of their own educational experience, makes them feel trusted, and increases their motivation to succeed.

3. Releasing to learners

It can be tricky to figure out when and where to deliver your learning content to your employees without them feeling pressured into it or overwhelmed. You want your employees to grow personally and professionally but still perform their day-to-day tasks with accuracy. Be aware of the audience’s schedule when you initially release the game. Don’t try to build hype about it during a busy time, such as year-end or just before a conference. In addition, consider releasing levels of the game over time rather than all at once. It needs to save progress so learners can return later and pick up where they left off.

4. Circumventing high costs

There are a few options for making serious games cost-efficient. You can research low-cost or free platforms that offer a game you might adapt to your needs. The trouble with this is that off-the-shelf games might be hard to customize. You might not be able to integrate all the details of your learning strategy.

You can also create your own game from scratch. This implies a different kind of process. You need to make sure you choose the right development company, survey your employees to discover their learning objectives, and be flexible to make changes as the game design progresses. Indeed, this implies more responsibility on your part. You'll need to prepare yourself to face many challenges along the way.

5. Figuring out the desired learning outcomes

As mentioned, knowing what skill and knowledge gaps your employees have and what you want the game to achieve is of utmost importance. After all, the whole point of the game is to increase employee productivity and thus lower company costs on all fronts. You can set up meetings to discuss your plan for implementing a serious game for educational purposes with staff members. You can send out surveys and questionnaires. You can even set up social media or discussion groups to help you reach certain conclusions on how the game should perform. This is basically like doing your homework. The more information you have beforehand, the better prepared you are to create a game that can benefit employees.

6. Designing bite-sized modules

Bite-sized chunks of information are always better than too much information, which can create a cognitive overload. Focusing on key concepts and breaking them down into smaller sections will help with employee knowledge retention. This will also allow employees to put into practice what they have learned promptly.

7. Creating the right game environment

For employees to connect emotionally with your serious game, you'll need to create compelling narratives and put the learner at the center of the story. The game must flow seamlessly from one level to the next and provide key concepts that players can then apply in the real world. Learner skill and knowledge levels are significant here. If you give them too much, they might feel overwhelmed and get discouraged from finishing the game. Yet if you give them too little, they might not take it seriously. One way of making the game more interesting is through branching. Allowing the player to choose from several options will lead them down a different path and provide other lessons. Employees will feel like they have the power to decide how they respond to a specific problem or situation. You'll allow them to make mistakes and learn from them without fixating on getting that one correct answer.

8. Creating personalized learning paths

Personalized learning paths go hand in hand with branching scenarios. In a sales-focused work environment, the right solution can depend on a variety of elements. The customer might have a certain attitude that needs disarming through using diplomacy skills. The product an employee is looking to sell might have a more expensive counterpart that could fit in better with the customer's needs. Thus, it is vital to enable the game to create personalized learning paths based on your employees’ sales styles and past experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to serious gaming that can deliver the high output you're looking for.

9. Collecting data

Using technology to train corporate employees has a huge advantage: real-time gathering of data. In a classroom environment, the trainer might rely on quizzes and tests to gauge employee advancement. Conversely, a serious game can deliver various and specific metrics for measuring employee skill acquisition and knowledge retention. Collecting data is essential to serious game customization. So, make sure you set up your game for gathering meaningful data from its incipient development stages.

10. Giving feedback

The beauty of serious game feedback is that it is instant. Pepper your game with key assessment stages so that you and your employees know how far they've come with incorporating valuable and helpful information into their daily job applications.

11. Adapting the game

If you've managed to avoid the first ten challenges of making your serious games training, great! Now it's time to go through the data, analyze it, and adapt the game accordingly. There's always more room for improvement. Make sure to constantly go back and check how the players interact with the game, ask for their opinions on improving the experience, and implement the changes immediately.

Game-Based Learning Works!

Yes, it can be difficult to initiate an exemplary serious game development. You'll need to be patient and work through all the issues that pop up. You'll need to strengthen your resolve and learn to be flexible with how things progress. Keep in mind that this is a process, and you're not aiming for perfection. Rather, try to make the game effective and beneficial to your employees and business overall. If you stay vigilant for the possible challenges you might encounter, you'll have an easier time working through them.

Serious games are a fantastic tool to increase employee productivity, job performance, and job satisfaction. This all starts with sharpening your listening skills. Employees are the only ones who can help guide you towards designing a powerful training game that can transform your company's learning and development culture. In time, the effects of using game-based learning for employee training will trickle down and reflect an increase in your bottom line.

To learn more about serious games and how to utilize them in your employee training strategies, download our eBook. If you would like to talk with someone on our team about custom serious games for your company, book a time to chat with us using our Online Booking Calendar

Please note this article was updated on 9/7/2021 and was originally published by our team on elearningindustry.com