Training Gamification – To Play or not to Play?

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

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Games have been an inseparable part of human life. In early age, we learn mostly by playing. For children, games provide immense opportunities for social, personal, emotional as well as intellectual development. But is that true for adults as well? Do adults also learn by playing games or do they only prefer it as a recreational activity for enjoying leisure time?  The growing popularity of various video games, on line games etc. point towards huge potential of gaming methodology for learning purposes. Not surprisingly, there is growing trend of using games in various forms in teaching and training interventions.

There are numerous benefits of using gamed based method over traditional methods. Game based methodology is fun, highly engaging, motivating and promotes self and peer learning. Even beyond these obvious advantages, the biggest support for this method of instruction can be attributed to the fact that they provide effective response to each level of Kirkpatrick evaluation for training effectiveness.

  • Reaction – The first level of evaluation of training success is participant reaction to the program. Since game based methods offer high engagement and an outcome/ result at the end of the game basis participants’ performance, it ensures positive reaction from the same.

 

  1. Learning – The second level of evaluation assesses the extent to which participants have advanced their skills, knowledge and/ or attitude. A well designed game will assess skills gains by tracking the failures participants encounter during the game including the types and frequency of failure. For example if a participant fails to get past first stage couple of times but learns the skills and get past second stage in one attempt then skill gain is evident and learning is noted.
  2. Behaviour – The third level of Kirkpatrick model, Behaviour, attempts to measure transfer of learning to workplace which could be a tricky process. Any well designed game has behavioural aspect built into it which ensures high probability of learning application.
  3. Result – The fourth level of evaluation, Result, seeks to link the training with business outcomes. A simulation/ game is programmed to help participants see the impact of their actions on the business result hence enhancing the chances of improving the business outcomes post training.

While there are various advantages of using this approach, there are also caveats which we need to watch out for before developing a game based method:

  • Relevance – Game should be designed keeping the learning objectives in mind so that the purpose of the workshop is fulfilled. It is easy for the participants to get carried away by the ‘fun’ aspect of the game.
  • Too much information – If there is a lot of information download then the game can becomes long and confusing
  • Cost Effectiveness – Many times it becomes difficult for corporate to use it as a blended learning format due to high cost criteria. Choosing the appropriate gaming format which suits the budget is the key.

Games are fun, engaging and multigenerational. Used in an appropriate way, they augment existing learning programs and enhance learner adoption, retention, application and business impact.

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