Serious Game or Simulation? Choosing the Most Effective Approach

Designing Digitally


Serious Game or Simulation? Choosing the Most Effective Approach

While the lines between serious games and simulations can be indistinct at times, as they have many similarities, the differences make them each better suited for certain specific scenarios.

There is no absolute rule as to which method should be used for a given learning situation, and often it is necessary to blend a variety of methods to meet a learning goal.

Serious games don’t have the decades of use behind them that simulations do, but both systems have their place in the modern world of corporate training.

In order to decide what method to use and when, it is necessary to take a more in-depth look at the differences between serious games and simulations.

When Simulations Are Best

Simulations work best in these scenarios:

  • When a backstory is necessary. Simulations generally provide more information  to analyze a situation in order to reach a solution. Simulations are heavier on details than games.
  • When a first-person point of view is required. Simulations are designed with more personalized outcomes in mind. There is a more individualized correlation to the consequences of choices.
  • When the game is centered around real-life scenarios. If the learning goals are real-life skills, simulation exercises are the best choice. They are  designed with more realistic portrayals of the environment and have a real-life context that games lack.
  • When the interaction is scenario-based. Simulation activities are designed with a more branching system of answers. For example, a multiple choice answer may lead to another set of choices, depending on the choice the learner makes.
  • When information is king. In a simulation, decisions are made based on the amount of information you have. The goal is to make the best analysis of a given situation with the supplied information.
  • When linear progression is the goal. When the learning is based on sequential steps, a simulation experience is a better approach.
  • When procedures remain static. Choose a simulation based method if scenarios change, but the process doesn’t. The situations in a simulation may vary, but the steps taken to reach a conclusion remain the same.
  • When immediate feedback isn’t vital. The eventual feedback comes from analyzing the outcomes of decisions.

The Advantages of Serious Games

On the other hand, serious games are the ideal scenario in these cases:

  • If there’s little to no backstory. A learner can begin to play a game with very little information set-up. The back story is not vital to the learning experience.
  • If the point of view is 3rd person. Games are played from a third-person point of view. They are best used when there isn’t a need  for the learner to be attached to consequences.
  • For fantasy. Games are not bound to reality and do not have to represent real life scenarios.
  • When rules rule. Advancement in a learning game comes from following specific rules. A better understanding of the rules makes for better success in the game.
  • For instant feedback. Success in the game is evidenced by advancing through the levels. If a learner fails to complete a goal, they don’t move on.

As corporations seek to provide their workers with comprehensive and effective learning tools, they will most likely find a combination of serious games and simulations will be their best choice for meeting learning objectives. To determine which would work best for your project, contact us today!