A History of Serious Games

Presenting the true origin of serious games is a bit more challenging than one might imagine, because civilizations have used this concept well before an LCD screen was ever invented.  In fact, military leaders have used gaming to teach warfare and survival skills for thousands of years, and the history books show that even ancient civilizations used competition as a learning tool. So even though the phrase “serious game” may be a relatively new term, there is nothing modern about using games to educate the masses.

The standard definition of a serious game is a real-world simulation that is designed to educate participants in a particular field of study. While it does not necessarily have to be a video game to fit the definition, advancements in digital imaging and 3D gaming technology  has made this format the standard for modern developers.

Early Examples of Serious Game

One of the first modern serious games was launched in 1955 by the John Hopkins University to simulate the devastation that would occur in a global nuclear war.  This game was titled HUTSPIEL, and it gave players a very realistic simulation of moving troops, supplies and ammunition to strategic zones across the world.  It was so state of the art for the time that both the Army and Navy eventually made sequels throughout the 1960’s.Oregon trail serious game

The success of HUTSPIEL also led to the development of serious games in other industries as well, such as the American
Management Association Games
series.  This strategy game pitted investors against each other to raise the most capital within a designated time limit, teaching basic economics and investing principles.  The Oregon Trail was another hugely popular title that was designed to educate Minnesota middle school students about the numerous perils of Oregon Trail in the 19th century.  This ultra-realistic simulation required players to complete numerous tasks such as hunting, fishing and crossing rivers, all the while keeping their family healthy and safe during the long journey.

Overall, it is estimated that 27 different titles of various serious games were released pre-1980.

The First Breakthrough in Modern Serious Games

One of the first modern entities to revolutionize their training regimen through serious games was the United States military.  For decades, troops have been placed in simulations that mimicked real-time combat so they would be better prepared for battle.  Even though there were numerous logistics issues in scheduling these training sessions and moving soldiers from around the country to participate, it was a very effective way to prepare our young men and women for what they may face in combat.

In 2002, the United States Army released a game project called America’s Army, which provided almost the exact same type of simulation that soldiers experienced at training facilities.  With numerous reward systems and close to a dozen training exercises ranging from ground combat and first aid to heavy weapons training; it was an instant success among soldiers. To date, over 41 expansion titles have been released in this series.

Today’s Brand of Serious Gaming

Today, there are dozens of successful serious game developers that design ultra-realistic training modules for almost every industry in the modern world.  For example, we recently launched Nurse Training: Trauma Unit for a healthcare client that not only simulates handling real-world scenarios within an emergency room, but also tracks the player’s achievements and grants various rewards for meeting objectives.  It was built in a module format so new scenarios can be added quickly as a need arises.  A demo version can be accessed here.

The future of Serious Gaming continues to look bright as more and more corporate clients realize the many benefits of virtual training.  As this technology advances to provide additional ways to measure learning potential and productivity, expect it to flourish in a number of new public sectors.

To learn more about serious games, contact us today!

Utilizing Simulations in Corporate Training

Over the past few decades, the face of corporate training has rapidly transformed as companies seek to specialize their sales force. United States businesses spent an astounding $156.2 billion on training and development in 2011, and that figure has grown at a steady rate of 15% in 2012 and 2013. Only about 37% of that learning came through technology and another 14% from traditional college courses, which means that a whopping 49% of these training efforts relied on old-school seminars, classroom training, and conferences.

Now, our staff would love to hop on a flight to Las Vegas for a training convention as much as anyone, so don’t get us wrong here. There will always be a need for conferences and guest speakers to educate our workforce. However, it is simply a very expensive way to learn in the 21st century.

The Cost Effectiveness of Simulations3D Simulation

Have you ever thought about how much training actually costs your business? The cost of training materials, travel, lodging, and even time. Then there is the loss of productivity during these periods and the scheduling conflicts that arise, all on the hopes of possibly educating staff members. It just doesn’t make sense.

In recent years businesses have found that implementing custom simulations into their training regimen is a very cost effective solution. Not only does it drastically reduce downtime, but also allows corporations to train employees on a wide variety of skills quickly and effectively. Because the learning is presented in a fun, interactive way, the comprehension levels are much higher and productivity levels can soar.

This has been a training secret of numerous Fortune 500 corporations for some time now; their simulations keep them ahead of the competition by unifying their workforce with the latest ideas and business concepts. The cost of the actual simulation is negligible compared to the additional sales revenue or awareness it can produce.

Take DriveVermont, for example, an online training simulation that helps residents learn to drive safely within a virtual environment. In 2010, the state of Vermont saw a steady decline in individuals who were passing the written component of driving tests, and they sought an interactive way to engage their residents while helping them learn. Once the DriveVermont project was implemented, passing rates rose from 55% to 75% by May of 2012, and they continue to climb today with the 3,000+ learners visiting the website weekly.

The Advanced Learning Potential of Simulations

Additionally, simulations provide corporations direct feedback on their training exercises in real time, which is something that even the most entertaining guest speaker or classroom trainer could ever hope for. Imagine being able to directly access metrics that show which students thrive with specific lesson plans, which concepts are more difficult to learn and even how the student’s learning process changes over a period of time. Since simulations can also implement updates with new content (or new metrics to track) whenever necessary, it is a fantastic long-term solution.

Multiple studies have also proven that learners will engage a well-designed simulation up to 20 times more than other learning methods. Think about that for a moment; how nice would it be to train employees twenty times faster or have them learn twenty times more information from a learning session? When employees are actively engaged and enjoying the learning experience, companies reap the benefits.

Why Simulations Make Serious Sense

A custom-designed simulation makes sense for corporations because it is a superior way to educate from every possible standpoint. Employees are able to learn information up to 20 times faster within a controlled environment, and without any additional costs for travel or other training materials. The most important factor by far, however, is that simulations are the preferred way to learn and your employees will welcome the challenge at becoming more proficient at their jobs.

Designing Digitally, Inc. is an innovative leader in custom simulations for all forms of business and we view every project as a partnership. For more information on how a custom simulation will benefit your staff, feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.