Serious Games or Simulations: What’s the Better Training Approach for Your Organization

Designing Digitally


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Serious Games have gotten a lot of attention recently as an effective way of providing training to our modern and tech-savvy workforce. Perhaps that’s because game-based training is an engaging, flexible and entertaining method of delivering the information workers need in order to perform their jobs. Serious Games allow participants to practice decision-making skills, learn new techniques, understand the results of an action, and to receive immediate feedback on their performance. But there’s another type of individualized learning that’s also gaining in popularity.

Simulations are related to Serious Games in that they both offer learners the opportunity to participate actively in their training. However, the two also have some fundamental differences. Simulations and Serious Games can be differentiated by how they are implemented, the type of interactions they require, and what situations they’re best suited for. 

What is a Serious Game?

A Serious Game is one that is designed for purposes other than pure entertainment. They can be used in marketing and brand-building, product awareness, and of course training. In the context of workforce training, Serious Games are intended as learning tools. They’re meant to teach participants new skills or to impart information using a medium that is appealing and enjoyable. In doing so, they take advantage of one of the most important parts of human behavior – we like to have fun. Some attributes of Serious Games include:

  • Often  take place in third-person narrative with the learner actively participating

  • Typically set in fantasy or non-realistic setting

  • Play is controlled by the participant in an environment with clearly defined rules

  • Progress through the game offers increasing challenges and rewards

  • Goals are typically high scores, fast completion time, obtaining rewards

What is a Simulation?

A training Simulation is intended to represent real-world settings, situations and scenarios. They are interactive and realistic, placing participants inside the Simulation to learn and practice actual tasks they may encounter in real life. An advantage of Simulations is the ability to practice potentially dangerous skills and techniques in a highly realistic yet entirely safe environment. For this reason, safety training is particularly well suited to Simulation-based training. Attributes of Simulations include:

  • Participant is immersed in the game, seeing and experiencing in first-person

  • Takes place in a realistic setting with graphics as close to real-life as possible

  • Participant chooses an action and the Simulation responds in branching-type scenarios

  • Progress is based on learning the proper techniques or decisions and performing them well

  • The goal is successful completion of a task or activity, usually in a series of coordinated steps

When to use Serious Games, when to use Simulations

Many corporations look at Serious Games and Simulations as a single solution to their workforce training initiatives. As we’ve shown, however, there is a clear distinction between each method. Depending on the skill, behavior or action that you want to influence, one or the other technique is likely to be more appropriate. Serious Games and Simulations are best suited for the following kinds of learning objectives:

Serious Games


  • Remember and recall information

  • Demonstrate complex decision-making skills

  • Discover communication or soft skills

  • Practice intricate skills in a safe environment, devoid of actual hazards

  • Practice a concept that is more important than a technique

  • Observe and interpret information in order to determine a course of action

  • Grasp business processes

  • Train in a contextually-accurate environment

  • Memorize technical data

  • Follow exact steps in the proper order

  • Understand regulatory requirements

  • Exhibit physical precision to execute a task

 When considering whether to opt for a Serious Game or Simulation as the best form of training for your workforce, it pays to consult with the experts. Here at Designing Digitally, our team of training designers can help you to choose the best method for developing training based on your requirements. We’ll create a customized training solution that best fits the needs of your employees, and offers them the most effective way to learn. Whether you need a 3D training Simulation, a competitive Serious Game, a random outcome Simulation or a custom scenario, we can design it for you.

To learn more about how we can help advance your employee training initiatives, call or contact us with your needs. We look forward to serving you.