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 Serious Gaming – The Power of Play

Whether it is NASA training astronauts for space missions, or a third grader using an iPad app to learn basic vocabulary; serious games represent a powerful new tool in learning development. When designed well, they keep learners motivated and engaged with educational content, allowing them to not only expand their knowledge, but also sharpen their practical skills.

Simulating learning solutions

The benefits of “learning by doing” have long been recognized. Research carried out by the Federation of American Scientists revealed that, “Students remember only 10 percent of what they read; 20 percent of what they hear; 30 percent if they see visuals related to what they hear; 50 percent if they watch someone do something while explaining it; but almost 90 percent if they do the job themselves, even if only as a simulation”.

However, the application of a “hands on” approach can have its drawbacks. In the workplace, for example, on the job training can be a highly effective method for learners to gain the expertise they require for their daily work, but it also places pressure on learners to perform well at all times and avoid costly mistakes. A simulated environment relives this pressure. By providing a virtual environment for learners to try out different strategies without fear of failure or loss, you give them the freedom to think differently, retain information through experiential learning, as well as exploring new ways of doing a job more efficiently. With such strong learning outcomes – it’s easy to understand why the aviation industry, the military and medical teams have for decades relied on the power of simulations when training their experts to tackle life threatening situations.

Serious games: the secret to success

The secret of a successful serious game depends on the educator’s ability to accurately pinpoint the motivations of the learner, and provide them with the perfect balance between challenge and reward. These small rewards represent only part of the overall gain, as they come accompanied by a reinforcement of learning objectives, constructive feedback and dynamic classroom environment.

One of the most powerful aspects of games is their ability to ignite a player’s emotions, producing everything from frustration to pride and therefore deeply engaging them in the task at hand. Competition alone is a massive motivator. Whether it is against yourself, or against others, competition acts as a catalyst to create the kind of drive that keeps learners returning to a task, for the satisfaction of winning or simply to gain the associated rewards of getting better at it.

Other simple game elements such as rules, provide the learner with boundaries within which they are free to explore and discover – testing theories and learning through trial and error. Problem solving can also be approached from a fresh perspective as learners are provided with the opportunity to assume new identities and tackle challenges from within that new role – which as a learning tool, can be a particularly valuable process.

Getting ahead of the game

The power of play has started to become more widely recognized, and new technology has can allow it to be implemented in ever more imaginative and effective forms. With careful development, industries across the globe have the opportunity to build more effective workforces, which are ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

A Smart Guide to Serious Gaming: PART 4

A Smart Guide to Serious Gaming: PART 3

A Smart Guide to Serious Gaming: PART 1

Contact Us today to learn more about how we can provide innovative training with serious gaming to help nurture your Human Capital!

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