Thinking about using games for learning? You might want to question your motivations, first.
Using a serious game or gamification platform in corporate learning can be a great option, but it’s not the the right solution for every situation. We often ask our customers and clients some simple questions to determine if a game fits their needs:
- Are your current learning solutions presenting challenges to people?
- Do your solutions provide strong feedback?
- Do your solutions motivate people to engage?
Challenges, motivation, and feedback are all characteristics of games that make them ideal in a corporate learning curriculum. And while other types of learning solutions can also provide challenge, motivation and feedback… games often do them best.
Behavior Change… or Check the Box?
So much “training” organizations create is really just a “check the box” exercise in company communication. In these situations, are games and gamification really needed? If we really are just complying with a procedure and are not attached to the outcome, it might actually make better business sense to not use an innovative learning solution.
On the other hand, if routine communication is important, we might seek a way to gamify the process and make people more engaged in the communication we are sending out.
Bottom line: if you don’t really care what people learn or remember, games are not the right choice. When job performance and retention do matter, you should consider game-based solutions. Let’s look at some scenarios:
When to Use Games in Corporate Learning
Here are four situations that take advantages of the innate strengths games have as engagement tools. They represent either use of a game or a gamification of the learning experience:
- People need to know something “cold” (e.g. from memory, sort of like multiplication tables) and it’s not information that is enjoyable or easy – on its own – to learn.
- People’s hearts and emotions need to be affected in order to open them up to new ways of viewing something or understanding something.
- People need a safe way to evaluate their skills and behaviors – and to improve them. People who think they are stellar at project management can play a project management game and get an entirely new insight into how they ACTUALLY behave when faced with constraints or pressures.
- People need ongoing motivation in order to stay engaged in a long-term endeavor (a certification process, a long-term company initiative).
Example: We worked with a global company this year to prepare sales reps for the launch of a new product AND their first-ever Android Smartphones. We created a mobile game that helped them build their product knowledge as well as build skills in navigating the phone and accessing information. They loved competing, achieving new levels, and seeing their scores go up. The game’s challenges and feedback kept them highly engaged, and by the end of the game, they were adept at linking product features and benefits to specific customer questions and objections AND in using their phones.