Smart Training Starts with Video Games

Smart training is more than just training your employees to be smarter, it is about training them in ways that connect to them more effectively. We know that practical, on-the-job training has better results compared to nontraditional training methods, but one area that is beginning to emerge is the use of video games. According to research by the Electronic Software Association, more than 70% of major businesses use interactive computer training that may include video games.

Gartner Analysts start with a simple explanation: “Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (e.g., annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.”

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Here are several reasons why incorporating video games can lead into smarter training:

1. Knowledge retention can be improved

Traci Sitzmann, PhD, assistant professor of management at the University of Colarado Business School, conducted a study that covered aspects of video games in training. Sitzmann found that among its 6000+ trainees using video games in training, that 11% had higher factual knowledge, 14% had higher skill-based knowledge, and 9% had higher retention rates that those in the control group.

2. It can help simulate difficult situations which helps with practical learning

There are scenarios in certain fields that are simply too difficult or complex to simulate in a practical setting. One example of this is disaster simulations.

The U.S. Department of Defense uses computer games to simulate disasters and provide a safe environment to train soldiers, sailors, Marines and local emergency departments. These simulations offer many advantages over other forms of learning. Depending on the budget and complexity of the game, it can have very realistic physics engine that would be impossible to replicate in real life. It is also a safer environment to learn from, and gives trainees an opportunity to apply what they have learned from other lessons.

Gartner Analysts refer to this as: “A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.”

3. Games can improve employee motivation

One silent killer of traditional training methods is that most employees go through the motions when part of training activities. They see it as a task they have to complete as a part of the job and nothing more.

However, once you add video games to the mix, training becomes more fun. Video games give a sense of accomplishment whenever you complete a task, which is a positive reinforcement. It rewards proper knowledge, critical thinking, and problem solving. Even though the end result is the same as traditional training methods, the path taken there is dramatically different. One example includes the Cold Stone Creamery scooping simulation for employees, where the purpose is to race against the clock without over-portioning ice cream. Employees end up having more fun and better experiences ultimately lead to more productivity.

4. Video game based training methods are cost-effective

Developing games that tie into training can actually cost a fraction of what traditional training methods to. A survey conducted by the ESA showed that respondents found a reduction in costs to training. Games can be made in-house or outsourced to another studio. Even quiz-like games with simple graphics and sound can be effective.

While games should not replace traditional employee training methods like classes and videos, they can be implemented in a smooth fashion. WalkMe provides the opportunity and tools to do just that. Their services seek to achieve all the same goals that video games have proven to be able to do. In fact, their platform can be used as a gamified add-on to improve employee efficiency, productivity, and overall contentment.

Jason Silver
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.
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