Adobe on Serious Games and Learning Gamification

Designing Digitally


Look what we found.

Anne Derryberry, a writer and consultant on serious games, education and interactive digital communications, has a pretty informative blog where she waxes philosophical as well as practical on all manner of issues related to serious gaming and education. She also assembled an impressive white paper on serious games for none other than Adobe – the powerhouse behind great graphic arts and design programs like Photoshop®, Illustrator®, Flash®, Dreamweaver®, Acrobat Reader® and more – basically the building blocks of many an Internet website much as they themselves are named after one of the great practical building blocks used around the world physically. Adobe clearly sees the value and promise behind serious gaming, and hired Derryberry to produce a clear and concise treatise on the subject for their readers.

Ms. Derryberry has some grand and insightful things to say about serious games, games for training, and the gamification of learning that is happening in academic institutions and business organizations across the country and around the world. Her good journalism work is really making us excited about the business we’ve chosen to pursue, since the future clearly lies in technology-based education and training, and serious games are going to be a large part AND the fun part of that highly effective training future.

In sections such as Do Serious Games Really Promote Learning, What is Different about Today’s Worker or Learner, and What Can We Expect in the Near Future, Derryberry lays-out her vision of the future for training-based education and gets into fascinating material covering LMSs (learning management systems) and even haptic computing. Some of Anne’s more interesting assessments and observations include:

  • As organizations intensify their efforts to engage with members of today’s workforce, serious games offer a powerful, effective approach to learning and skills development. – page 1
  • While learning can and does occur within a casual game, it is a by-product, rather than an intentional outcome of game play. Serious games are designed with the intention of improving some specific aspect of learning, and players come to serious games with that expectation. – page 3
  • What sets serious games apart from the rest is the focus on specific and intentional learning outcomes to achieve serious, measurable, sustained changes in performance and behavior. Learning design represents a new, complex area of design for the game world. – page 4
  • As recently reported in BusinessWeek, “Companies around the world, including McKinsey & Company, Royal Philips Electronics, and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, are bringing games with 3D computer graphics into the workplace[, and]…using games to recruit new talent, improve communication between managers and their far-flung staff, and train employees and new hires at all levels.” – page 6
  • Younger learners are also being exposed to serious games with great success. England’s North West Learning Grid, for example, launched DiDA Delivered, a diploma program in IT skills for secondary students in the U.K. The curriculum includes 4,000 learning objects and 300 serious games. In the wake of the positive response to DiDA Delivered, the curriculum has more recently been launched in Australia, New Zealand, and Ascension Island. – page 8
  • Forward-thinking companies interested in attracting and retaining younger workers are already integrating serious games into training, performance support, and company community programs. They recognize what Deborah Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness, has observed: “Game players have to think strategically about their positioning and analyze opponent strengths and weaknesses…. These characteristics might not immediately come to mind when considering the learning needs of an employee of a fast food restaurant. McDonald’s believes otherwise. Today, much of the training of McDonald’s in-store personnel is conducted via serious games, including customer service, store operations, and employee supervision. – page 9
  • · Adds Don Thompson, assistant director, Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation: “Perhaps the most fatal flaw in the education of young people is that we apprentice young people into 19th century science rather than letting them play 21st century scientist.” – page 11
  • Serious games do not exist in a vacuum but are part of a course, curriculum, or larger learning experience. Learning designers must plan for easy and natural integration of a serious game into the overall learning design. Most especially, learning designs must include a plan for learning transference from the game back to the greater learning plan or to the workplace. – page 14

As you can see from the selections displayed here, Derryberry’s whitepaper for Adobe is chock-full of affirmative facts and insights on the future of gamification for learning. It’s exciting to hear others talk about one of our chief passions, and now you can read our white paper on the same subject – please click here to download your own copy. Also, you can contact Designing Digitally, Inc. for more information on serious games design and development. We look forward to working with your company on your future training initiatives.