Let’s Get Serious And Play A Game

How do we get past the hesitation of using games within learning in such a way that the management team is open to the idea?

It took a long time before we felt comfortable saying “ Lord Voldemort” (for those of you in the dark on this reference, ask your favorite Harry Potter fan to explain); now it seems we can’t say “game” within the corporate learning environment. Using the words “game” and “learning” in the same sentence is still not acceptable to many business executives. There is an impression that all games must have a first-person shooter experience, dragons to slay, or cars to furiously race.

How do we get past this hesitation of using games within learning in such a way that the management team is open to the idea? Sometimes the term, “serious game,” is used to convey the idea that this new learning is serious and business oriented without any fun. Whatever name you wish to call it, gaming is an important element of learning. The emphasis is still on leaming—and, yes, we can all have fun doing it.

The elements or mechanics of the game design incorporate motivation, rewards, challenges, accomplishments, engagement, etc. — all of the things found in games. These and other elements are interwoven in and through a business situation such as inclusion and diversity, sales improvement, teambuilding, communication, leadership, and performance improvement, to name just a few. This combination then is set within a game theme.

Let’s Play!

Let’s use team communication as the business situation and see how some of the game elements and learning are applied in a fun and engaging manner. In the following example, we will use only the normal tools we find in our work environment such as e-mail, telephone, social media, audio, video, and chat.

You sign up for Teambuilding and in your e-mail the next day, you receive a QR code and nothing else. The game has begun!

Your interest starts to build. Your curiosity takes you to a QR reader, which leads you to a Website with a Mission Statement, some rules, explanation about the game elements such as points or rewards, and your logon to a social media platform used to communicate with the other team members. Maybe you don’t know what to do with the QR code, so you go to the social media site and ask your teammates for some help. Teambuilding is underway.

The Mission Statement informs you that you are on the second floor of a secluded research center, which was shuttered by some protestors who think you are engaged in unethical research. You are locked in and must safely evacuate through the only egress door, which is in the basement. To accomplish your safe exit, you must successfully pass seven obstacles, with each obstacle preceded by some training on teambuilding, decision-making, communication, etc. Every obstacle is timed and “gated,” so each team member must access his or her training materials, otherwise the team cannot move forward. Each obstacle successfully overcome provides a clue, one of seven that will be needed to enter into the code device at the exit door. The team must work together through the challenges. Be careful, there may be some protesters blocking your success!

Intrigued? Want to learn more? If you want to play, come to Training 2017 and participate in my three-hour clinic on Gaming Wednesday, February 1, 2017. See you in San Diego!

Dave Goodman is the director of Learning Services at SoftAssist, inc. (www.softassist.com). He has been involved with learning and development for more than 20 years and has participated in the design, development, and delivery of 600-plus courses for corporations, including classroom, online, mobile, and gaming. His other areas of learning interest are post-learning retention and using social medium for learning.