Best Use of Games for Learning

Wilhelmsen Maritime Services and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management created games that allow learners to apply the information learned from the game in their role within the organization.

“May the odds be ever in your favor”—The Hunger Games

Games and gaming are immensely popular right now. The movie, The Hunger Games,was not only the box office winner for its opening week, but had the third highest opening weekend ever, for any movie, and the highest box office take ever for a non-sequel ( Video games are also immensely popular. According to a 2011 report from the Entertainment Software Association, 72 percent of American households play computer and video games (, and not all of those households have kids in them.

The concept of using a game and rewards to support learning and development has been around for years, and started for many of us in grade school with gold stars and report cards. We are competitive creatures by nature, and games provide an opportunity for people to engage deeply in a learning environment, and offer motivation for behavior changes. Games shouldn’t be used lightly; they should fit the situation and business outcomes required. If managed well, not only are these games entertaining and educational, but learning games can go beyond learning and into talent management and workforce development.

In the 2011 Brandon Hall Group Awards “Best Use of Games for Learning” submissions focused on training employees not just to be able to perform simple skills, but to go beyond and understand the industry and special needs of their organization.

For Wilhelmsen Maritime Services, a 2011 Brandon Hall Group Silver Award Winner, this meant creating MIPMAP - The Maritime Industry Game. The company wanted to create a game where the participants play roles as competing vessel operators in a global market. The game creates opportunities to be active and make strategic choices, and gives the players the opportunity to learn about the complex maritime industry.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management won a Bronze Award in 2011 for its learning game of IT Security for the Network Administrator. The learning games were developed for all of the federal agencies throughout the United States government for all Network Administrators serving in these government agencies. The learning games provided opportunities for learners to apply what they learned by being a part of real-life scenarios (similar to their work environments) and making decisions that affect IT security. The learning games correspond to objectives and challenge learners by introducing a variety of scenarios through each game. These scenarios require learners to recall information and put it into practice by applying what they have learned

Both of these companies saw the value for their employees to use a game for learning because that game creates an “as if” situation and allows learners to apply the information learned from the game in their role within the organization.

As people are making decisions about where they want to spend their discretionary time, learning games could turn what once was a chore into a new opportunity. Is there a way for your organization to make games work for you?

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With more than 10,000 clients globally and 20 years of delivering research and advisory services, Brandon Hall Group is an established research organization in the performance improvement industry. Brandon Hall Group has an extensive repository of thought leadership research and expertise in its primary research portfolios—Learning and Development, Talent Management, Sales Effectiveness, Marketing Impact, and Executive Management. At the core of its offerings is a Membership Program that combines research, benchmarking, and unlimited access to data and analysts. Members have access to research and connections that help them make the right decisions about people, processes, and systems, coalesced with analyst advisory services tailored to help put the research into daily action. For more information, visit and

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