July, 2014

Millennial Learners Thrive with Serious Games

When we think about Millennials, or people born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it is important to remember that we are talking about a generation that grew up at the dawn of the Information Age.  Just think about it; within that 20 year span, children went from playing Pong to having a home-based gaming console that was almost 1,000 times more powerful- the PlayStation 2 or the Xbox.  Millennials grew up during a truly great revolutionary period that is still unfolding to this day.

Millennial Learners and Serious Games

In fact, this generation saw exciting new advancements being developed almost every year of their life, which is why they are so quick to embrace new technology within all aspects of their lives.  Millennial Learners seem to thrive with serious games and 3D simulations as well, but they are also a much more demanding audience.  Here are three reasons why-


Blame it on Public Education

While the earliest versions of serious games can be traced back to the 1970’s, titles like Number Munchers started popping up in Elementary Schools across the country in the early 1980’s as learning tools.  As the school systems steadily advanced from their IBM PC 133’s to more powerful computers, new and exciting “demo versions” were being shipped off to schools in droves.

So when we say that Millennials literally spent their entire lives playing serious games, it is not an exaggeration.  From handheld toys like Speak and Say as a toddler to PC and console games, this generation is very well adapted to learning in this manner.

Exciting New Opportunities

Besides, the technology surrounding the lives of Millennials did more than just educate them; it became a serious motivation as well.  The Computer Age created a whole new land of opportunity for professionals on every continent on the planet, and it gave birth to a global economy like the world has never seen before.  Here in the United States, the American Dream was literally reborn in garages and basements long before anyone had heard the phrase “Silicon Valley.”

Now, that’s not to say that most Millennials became computer programmers or network techs, but almost everyone saw the fresh possibilities of what technology could bring. Entire industries were born around the advancement of the early computer chip, with things like handheld games, pagers and personal computers flooding the market.  Over 19 million new jobs were created as the market shifted towards technology and Millennials eagerly welcomed the dawn of this new era.

An Eagerness to Succeed

Another trait that Millennials have in common is an “out of the box” way of thinking that was never before present in society.   Instead of going with the flow and pursuing the traditional business path of college and then a career, this generation aggressively used technology to create startups, new innovations and marketing insights that literally reinvented how today’s brand of entrepreneur conducts business.

Additionally, the creation of the Internet meant that practical knowledge on almost anything could be accessed with the click of a few keystrokes.  This generation was quick to self-educate themselves on business, politics and almost every other imaginable topic, simply because it was readily available.

So why do Millennials seem to thrive with serious games and 3D simulations?  In a nutshell, it is because they grew up surrounded by this technology and embraced it throughout their lives. Some would even say that it is a part of them, just like Baby Boomers feel about the industrial revolution or the New Worlders (1880’s) think of patriotism.

At Designing Digitally, we are proud to be a part of the millennial generation and that’s why we take so much pride in designing fantastic serious games.  For more information on solutions for your business, please contact us at your earliest convenience to request a free quote.


The Gamification of Learning and How it Challenges Engagement

Regardless of whether we’re talking about college students, employees or simply a casual user, almost everyone hopes to be both challenged and inspired when it comes to learning. That’s why the gamification of learning has become such a successful teaching tool in a wide variety of fields; it allows users to work towards clearly reachable goals by adapting and exploring new horizons. In fact, many experts even go as far as to claim that gamification creates a unique opportunity to facilitate a challenging, almost addictive experience that brings out the best in pupils.

To understand why the gamification of learning is such a powerful educational tool, one must look no further than how we played video games as children. Remember all of those near-impossible Super Mario Brothers levels that we’d spend hours trying to pass as children? That very journey, and the satisfaction that we felt after being successful, is why the average user embraces the gamification style of learning.

Setting Clear Goals

The first aspect of gamification that helps facilitate learning is the actual goal aspect- users are given direct challenges that can be met through practice and repetitive learning. These goals could be anything from advancing in levels to receiving a reward, or accessing new content; the catalyst itself is not nearly as important as the strategies that the user must adapt to complete each goal. Because even in failure, the learner gains new skill sets and a better understanding of how to meet the objective.

For example, the 3D Para-Trooping Simulation that we created for the United States Air Force Academy challenges cadets to judge wind, velocity and many other factors as they try to complete a perfect jump from an aircraft. The life-like feel helps users immerse themselves in the simulator to the point where they directly learn the consequences of slow reaction times or other common rookie mistakes, without actually placing their lives in danger.

Solid, Believable Challenges

Likewise, the gamification of learning has to consider the target user’s expected proficiency level throughout the simulation in order to provide a challenging, yet achievable learning experience. To put that in perspective, imagine starting the retro game Tetris on level 30 where the game pieces are falling at light speed…not too many players would have enough patience to stick it out and advance. There has to be a proper balance from beginning to end in order to keep the user completely engaged.

As one could imagine, establishing a proper learning curve for the average user is easier said than done. When we created the 3D Trauma Unit simulation for a private client, one of our main objectives was to ensure that the numerous challenges would all appear difficult, yet passable, as students advanced from one 3D simulation to the next. This allows interest levels to remain high while delivering a feeling of real accomplishment with each success.

Clear, Precise Feedback

gamification designing digitallyAnother important factor in the gamification model is giving the user exact feedback whenever they fail to grasp the complexity of the tutorial before them. This could happen for a number of reasons, and the gamer will quickly lose interest if an almost immediate solution is not available. After all, there’s nothing worse than investing some time in a software title, only to get stuck midway with no clear solution on how to advance.

At Designing Digitally, Inc., we test and re-test our software continually to ensure that the immersive user experience is second to none. For us, that means anticipating thousands of different scenarios where a user may encounter excess difficulties and ensuring that they always have options to become reengaged after every difficult obstacle. Our precise feedback is just one of the many reasons that our customer experience goes above and beyond the competition.