Forrester Research
( recently released a new study that highlights the fact that companies just don’t understand the concept of gamification well enough in order to make it work to their advantage. This helps to confirm the point that I have tried to make all along and that is… Companies and universities for the most part just don’t recognize the unique value proposition that gamification coupled with simulation technologies can bring to the organization to aid in training/teaching learners.

In the study, Forrester states that a company investing in gamification needs to know who their target audience is and what that audience finds as valuable. Also the organization must determine its business objectives and chart an action plan to reach them, and in addition use an “engagement loop to connect user motivations to those actions.” Past failures by some businesses have lead enterprises to question gamification applications even more so then they already were previously. The Forrester report also said, “It’s not gamification itself that fails, it is the poor application of gamification that does.”

Misconceptions still abound over the topic of gamification, mainly due to the fact that gamification is a relatively new term and therefore met with some resistance in the thoughts over the game mechanics that it employs. Pitching gamification to the ‘big guns’ of an organization can be a difficult task, easily met with some resistance. At times it can be difficult to bridge the way of thinking and applying training elements through gamification and simulation between gamers and the enterprises decision-makers.

The overall aim of gamification is to engage the user/player and inspire them to interact, ultimately enhancing the users’ engagement and learning process. If the simulation looks appealing then the learner wants to participate in it and is much more likely to become immersed and actually learn the material to be taught. The recent introduction of gamification is what I believe to be the pinnacle of design and creativity to enhance the user experience within a simulated environment. Simulations before the introduction of gamification were good, but they are even better now! It is the gamified elements that make the simulation a more compelling and participatory experience for the user, which in turn makes the training program even more successful.

More and more education is increasingly being provided in online forms and thus classrooms are progressively more going ‘virtual’ as technologies can now mirror that of the classroom experience (whether this is from the perspective of a business or university platform). In order to measure the effectiveness of a training program, it may be best to not look at it by what we want one to learn, but rather what they will learn and takeaway with them. Ultimately it’s the learning outcome that really matters and the simulation is just the vehicle in which that drives the learning process. While metrics may vary from application to application it’s important to note what results we want the learner to walk away with in broadening their understanding on a particular topic/subject within a simulation platform. Maybe a better question to ask a learner/ trainee/ student after the completion of a training/course is: “What they didn’t know before and now know?”

Below are just a few (of the many) advantages to gamified simulation training over traditional classroom-based training:

  • Much more effective with a higher retention rate
  • Is a much more participatory experience
  • Can easily be repeated (over and over again)
  • Can be ‘played-through’ at any time rather than only learning when in a classroom type of setting based around other’s schedules
  • Allows for real-world like experiences and mimics the real-world
  • Classroom based ‘textbook’ learning can be a logistical challenging nightmare when you have a distributed workforce
  • Ability to easily add content or expand the simulation at a later date
  • Cost-effective and able to yield a high Return on Investment

The gamified simulation training process is able to take the tools and skills that one must master and provide context and meaning in a replicated ‘real world’ scenario that adds much more interaction than that of the boring pen and paper based lecture type  of teaching methods that may now seem ‘old school’ to some. By training through simulation and utilizing elements of gamification it adds a new form of value into teaching someone and also includes a new layer of what some may call “Learning by doing”. Its one thing to deliver a course that is full of content, but it’s another thing to actually make sure that the outcome is what is intended. It’s that outcome that all companies that employ simulations look for; as does the company that builds the simulation. A powerful, engaging and responsive design allows for full participation by the trainee/ learner and aids in reaching the objectives of the training program.

Gamified applications are increasingly becoming available for both entertainment and educational/training purposes; simulation is just one key arena that complete success has been measured. By measuring the effectiveness of games and specific game elements (otherwise known as gamification) used in learning and training; one can reap huge rewards and ultimately run a highly successful training program.

Companies’ involvement in gamification is increasingly catching on. While some may still be concerned that gamification isn’t a serious enough business tool, misconceptions abound around the term ‘gamification’ are the main reason to blame for this erroneous belief. But in reality gamified elements are able to apply principles in a sterile type of simulation system to increase participation. The key to making your next gamified simulation training platform successful is to just know your target audience and cater to their learning needs. By applying business principles to ensure the gamified simulation initiative meets your organizational ideas and goals and is relatable then your program will be sure to be a complete success! Gamification powered simulation could just be the game-changer for your organization when developed and implemented correctly.

Copyright Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.