How To Employ Serious Games In Online Training: 5 Tips For eLearning Professionals

Everyone enjoys a good online game, but how can you design online games that go beyond pure entertainment to offer your corporate learners real world value?

In this article, I will explore the topic of serious games in online training and I’ll offer 5 tips that can help you integrate them into your online training strategy.

Serious games in online training are typically simulations or traditional online games with a twist. The twist being that they are made for the sole purpose of developing a skill or mastering a process.

They do offer entertainment value, but the main goal is to boost the interactivity and immersion of corporate training experiences to make them even more effective. The first mention of “serious games” appeared in Clark Abt’s 1970 book of the same title.

Abt defined a serious game as “an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context. A more conventional definition would say that a game is a context with rules among adversaries trying to win objectives”.

At its core, serious gaming in online training is all about building competition between corporate learners and driving them to do their very best.

Instead of merely watching the screen as the module progresses, learners have the opportunity to engage with the online training course and get a firsthand look at the real world value of their online training.

5 Tips To Employ Serious Games In Online Training

5 Tips To Integrate Serious Games Into Your Online Training Strategy

  1. Keep it short and goal-centric

    The most effective serious games in online training are typically just few minutes long. This helps to avoid cognitive overload and keeps the learner fully engaged in the learning process.

    If you try to include too much information or stray away from the core goals your online game may lose some of its educational value. Keep in mind that your corporate learners are participating in the online game because they need key pieces of information or develop a specific skill.

    Focus on these elements when you are creating your online game to ensure that it’s on target. In fact, you may want to enlist the aid of a few colleagues to test out the online game and then solicit their feedback.

    If they mention that they lost interest in the online game at a specific time marker, such as around the fourth or fifth level, then you might consider removing unnecessary content to narrow the scope.

  2. Make knowledge application a top priority

    The primary goal of serious games in online training is to encourage corporate learners to apply what they have learned. Thus, your online game should rely on their current knowledge base and skill sets.

    This allows them to take their comprehension to the next level and commit the information to their long-term memory for later use.

    Serious games in online training also stress the real world value of what they are learning, such as how it can be applied outside of the virtual training environment.

    Make sure to reinforce all of the key concepts or ideas in your online game, and give them the opportunity to explore the repercussions of their decisions and actions.

  3. Create a plot that thickens

    No serious game in online training is complete without an immersive story that draws corporate learners in and helps them connect.

    This is why it’s essential to develop a solid plot beforehand, including the characters, conflict, and possible resolutions.

    The secret to a successful serious game in online training is to include just enough backstory to make it relatable, but not so much information that the core ideas get lost in the shuffle.

    One of the best ways to integrate a story is to cast the learner as the main protagonist. They are the ones who must overcome the obstacles and see the journey through to the end.

    This does not have to involve fantastical elements, such as slaying dragons or defeating an arch nemesis. In fact, the most powerful serious games in online training are based in reality.

    For example, you can ask your learner to resolve an argument at work or complete a difficult sales transaction.

  4. Make it competitive

    Serious games in online training may be quite different from online video games, but they do have one important thing in common: competition. Human beings are, by nature, competitive.

    We like to perform better than our peers, and serious games in online training appeal to that source of motivation. Leaderboards are a great way to take advantage of our competitive streak.

    You can even encourage corporate learners to compete against themselves by asking them to improve their scores every time they participate in the online game.

  5. Use serious games to assess and collect feedback

    Serious games in online training give you the chance to gather invaluable feedback and assess learner progress. As your corporate learners expand their knowledge base and improve their comprehension their scores will improve.

    On the other hand, if a number of corporate learners fail to improve, you may want to examine your overall online training strategy.

    This may be an indication that the online training content or delivery method is not meeting the needs of your corporate audience, and you can identify what areas need to be fine-tuned. If you do choose to use serious games as online assessments, you should ensure that you have grading criteria in place and make your corporate learners aware of what they can expect.

    For example, you can tell them what will be graded, what they should study, and what score constitutes as a “pass”.

Serious games in online training may not have a place in all online training courses, but they can offer a wide range of benefits if corporate learners are open to the experience.
More importantly, eLearning professionals must know how to use them effectively to achieve the desired results.

To determine if serious games are right for your online training strategy, conduct audience research and consider the objectives of your organization. If it is ideally suited for your online training program, then use these tips to make your online training more immersive and memorable with the help of serious games.

Want to learn more about gamification in online training?

Read the article 23 Effective Uses Of Gamification In Learning to discover 23 powerful uses of gamification in online training to show you how gamification cannot only enhance the online training experience, but also make it refreshingly colorful and appealing.

5 Tips To Employ Serious Games In Online Training

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