Over 50% of companies are going to implement or have already implemented, game based learning. As companies intensify their efforts to engage their workforce in learning, games offer a new method for learning and skills development.
There are principally two groups of stakeholders who are showing an interest in game design and development.
- Learning designers who want to make learning more engaging and lasting.
- Companies who want to attract and retain today’s younger generation (the Millennials – born after 1980) who grew up playing games and who will comprise over 50% of the workforce by 2020. “Fifty-eight percent of Millennials stated that they are likely to select an employer who will provide them with the same tools to collaborate, network and learn on the job that they use in their personal lives” (2020 Workplace).
Although the interest in games is growing, there is still some skepticism. So it begs the question – can we learn from games? Research in cognitive science says that we can learn if a game is well designed. A well-designed game uses sound learning principles that include the elements of games built into the design.
These are some of the reasons why online video games are good for learning.
- Games force you to think about the decisions you are making and the consequences of those decisions.
- Players get to make and learn from mistakes. In games, failure is a good thing.
- You become accustomed to receiving copious feedback and develop skills in giving feedback.
- Games have clear goals that players have to rethink forcing them to constantly come up with new strategies.
- They incorporate well-ordered real world problems – not tedious facts and information.
- They put performance before competence so players “learn by doing” and through actual real time experiences, which gives more meaning to the words they read or the lecture that they attend.
- Retention is higher with repeated opportunities to practice and use what has been learned. Games present players with new problems allowing them to practice their responses multiple times.
- They connect playing and learning to social interaction through collaboration and competitive play, which makes learning intrinsically motivating encouraging players to learn.
- Games present challenging problems preparing the player to later solve more difficult issues on the job.
- Games are active and not passive. They talk back to you and immerse you in the learning experience.
Game based learning is not a fad, not a trend and is not the flavor of the month. Online games will be integral to the future of training. Forward thinking companies already know this and are incorporating them into their training programs.