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As anyone who’s ever watched an adept video gamer will tell you, videogames are some of the most engaging activities we can perform. That’s because playing computerized games stimulates our brains by presenting scenarios in which we have to interpret and respond to various input. The brain is engaged to such an extent by the interaction within these games, that cognitive scientists have shown it actually improves brain function.
This same level of engagement is what training directors strive for in designing the newest types of learning courses. For years training professionals have been dangling the carrot of improved learner engagement in front of frustrated managers’ eyes, yet frequently the training they develop has come up short.
The advent and continued improvement of gamification and serious games promises to change all of that. As the technology to create more realistic and functional computerized interactions has combined with ubiquitous connectivity, high-speed computing and mobile devices, eLearning engagement is becoming a promise fulfilled.
As the terms gamification and serious games become more a part of our dialogue in training development, we notice some confusion. Is there really a difference between them? Let’s have a look.
In fact, gamification and serious games relate to the promotion of learning using the inherent problem-solving skills and engagement that interactive games facilitate. The techniques for problem identification, creative problem solving and solution-oriented thinking are all brought to life when a learner is placed inside of the situation. That said, there are some semantic differences that can be identified between the terms.
Gamification is a technique which uses game mechanics such as leaderboards, badges and other rewards or incentives in a non-game context. By incorporating the fundamentals of game mechanics, training can be made more interesting and engaging to the learner, leading to better retention and improved performance.
The term ‘serious games’ often refers to games designed for the purpose of teaching a specific skill. Jobs that involve a potentially dangerous or highly technical task can be developed as computer-based scenarios for learners to practice on. That is not to say only dangerous or technical tasks can be the subject of a serious game, any topic can be the subject of a serious game. This kind of training technique applies game principles, but does so in a way that focuses on a specific skill-building outcome.
Using games in a teaching environment to better represent the concepts being taught gets the learner engaged. Through game playing, learners are able to master skills and tasks virtually, outside of a real-world setting.
The methods and techniques for designing training courses have evolved immeasurably over the past few decades. The problem is, traditional methods have depended upon presenting learners with lists of facts to memorize, rules to follow, and tips that may or may not be relevant. All of which is a recipe for disengaging the brain.
Training that is designed using effective game techniques on the other hand, presents learners with an opportunity for activity, feedback and engagement. The best game-based training incorporates many of the motivators that make video games so engaging, such as challenge, recognition of achievements, an opportunity for reward, and a way to track progress. These and other game techniques help to promote interest, excitement, and engagement.
If we believe the science which shows us that highly engaged brains are better at learning, then using game techniques for developing training just makes sense. If our brains are engaged and active, they are more able to receive, process, and retain new information.
The goal of any training program is to offer learners the best opportunity to acquire knowledge. Using game techniques within training courses promotes more interaction, better engagement and improved retention of the information being presented. Gamification and game-based learning offer the learner a more stimulating and engaging learning experience, which translates into a more effective training program.
At Designing Digitally, we specialize in creating eLearning that uses the latest techniques and principles of gamification. Our experience with creating game-based learning tools gives us the ability to design effective training programs for any business and knowledge set. Our results speak for themselves, so let us know how we can help your business to increase learner engagement, improve efficiency and create a better trained workforce. Contact us to learn more about gamification, serious games, and how your organization can benefit from stellar online training.