Funnily enough, choosing the right game is no game. Well-produced and executed learning games are serious business, so John Findlay, founding partner of Ontario, Canada-based interactive promotions company Launchfire, Inc., tells you how not to become a loser:
>> "The game needs to achieve an equitable balance between educating and entertaining the end user," he says. That means the game should offer value to both the trainer and the "player." A trivia game in which every question is related to the key value propositions of your product or service seems like a fabulous idea, but think again. "The problem is the game offers little value to the user, so they will not play it," Findlay notes.
>> Set up systems to track the game, and evaluate its effectiveness. The primary objective is to train your audience, but don't miss out on the opportunity to do a little learning yourself. "By setting up tracking systems you can see how effective the game was at engaging your target audience and maintaining their interest," he explains.
>> Ask your game developer to build a game engine that can be re-skinned (i.e., is capable of having its visuals changed), so it can be used for other training purposes in the future. "For instance," offers Findlay, "a trivia game can be affordably re-skinned with new graphics and trivia to convey new messaging."
>> Make the game accessible across multiple platforms. Publish it in more than one place—on the intranet, Internet, during a town hall meeting, and on CD—to ensure easy access while maximizing your results.
>> Don't forget about demographics. "While men prefer action and sports games, women are more partial to word and puzzle games," says Findlay. "Choosing the right genre can make the difference between a magnetic, engaging, and effective program, and an utter failure."