Realizing Serious Game Learning Potential

Most training coordinators and human resource managers have heard of incorporating serious games into ongoing professional development and employee training programs. What these professionals may not realize is the actual potential for learning that 3D simulations offer in virtually any type of work or learning environment. The ability to capitalize on the benefits of this type of training needs to be a critical component of any employee training or skill building program within a workplace environment.

The reasons why serious games and real time 3D simulations are such powerful training tools has a lot to do with how humans learn. Everyone learns using a variety of modalities; however, in each person one or more modalities may be preferred learning styles. The learning modalities or styles include hearing, seeing, touching, doing, and talking, and well developed serious games will include all these aspects into the experience that the online learner is fully immersed in during the simulation.

Through the simulation the user and learner is exposed to a variety of situations that closely mirror the types of pressure laden decisions, ability to follow protocols, procedures and guidelines that occur in the real world. By playing through the game or simulations online, this behavior becomes patterned leaving much less chance of a poor or incorrect decision when the actual real world experience occurs. In addition, information gained through serious game scenarios can go much further into abstract concepts and more elaborate scenarios than could ever be realistically developed using role plays and standard learning exercises.

For many learners it is intimidating to be forced into role plays, workshop or classroom activities or demonstrations. By using an online real time 3D training simulations, the learner is completely without a visible audience and there is no pressure or stress to detract from the learning. Learners will personalize their avatars or online characters and also interact with others online in a much less formal manner, increasing learning by expanding interactions and the ability to chain events in the game based on learner input.

The learner can also, upon completion of the training simulation or serious game module, immediately provide feedback through the game design software. These comments are an effective way to track learner comprehension of the module and determine ways to constantly improve and modify the online learning experience. With the option for the game and other players to also provide positive feedback to the learner, the entire focus changes from a dreaded learning activity to a positive training experience. Being able to look back and think about why decisions were made a specific way in the serious game, a process known as metacognition, is another element of this learning that isn’t available in traditional training programs.

Finally, there are a huge number of skills that are developed and enhanced through online serious game play. While early researchers quickly identified the benefits of increased hand eye coordination and increased speed of responses, there are far greater benefits to using interactive 3D games and simulations in any type of training. Learners using these training systems have an increase in their grasp of industry or training specific terminology, increased awareness of spatial navigation, increased problem solving ability when presented with decision, as well as a better ability to communicate and work with a team.