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       Team Totem 2016    New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:                 

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        PJ (Creative Producer)    2016 will have a heavy focus on VR and AR technologies in the gaming space. However it will be a slow growth process as unit price points, technology processing power and rendering speeds will hamper these technologies in becoming truly ubiquitous in 2016.   That’s not to say that these technologies won’t be hugely profitable for some hardware manufacturers and game developers, as early adopters will always invest in new technologies and new game IP. What will be interesting to see is, the creative use of these technologies and who and which variants of these technologies come out on top.                   

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Helen Routledge (Head of Design and Production)    In 2016 the trend towards understanding the real value in ‘proper’ gaming techniques and mechanics over just slapping badges and scores onto content will continue. The ‘easy’ trend of gamifying content has saturated the market place and we are seeing commissioners of content as well as learners shy away from these cheap tricks to boost short term engagement.   More and more we are hearing that gamified elearning just isn’t ‘doing it’ for learners; many elearning providers have replaced the classic next button with a dice graphic – it still performs the same function, it’s just, now it’s a fancy next button.     In terms of which areas of learning will do well in 2016 for me, I believe soft skills will continue to thrive and personally I’d love to see the area of recruitment move forward – as the possibilities of using games to evaluate possible new recruits are huge!  Also I forecast huge book sales!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Stuart Jackson (Artist)    The “big thing” I’m most excited about in the year ahead is the advancements in procedural generation in games. Many of this year’s up and coming games include procedural generation, especially “ No Mans Sky ”. Having technology that pushes the boundaries of design is something I think will inspire the future of serious games!      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Amy Wing (Media Production and Marketing Executive)    I’m looking forward to seeing more 360 degree videos in 2016. There have already been some interesting applications already. In 2015 we've seen examples used on news channels and film trailers. This week, Pixar are releasing their first 360 animation, which is really exciting. But the most interesting aspect is the doors this opens for documentaries. The immersive nature of 360 filming gives film makers an avenue to reach their audience in ways never before possible.  The most prominent example from 2015 is  Polar Sea 360 . This hybrid of 360 filming and traditional filming techniques explores the effects of the changing Artic environment. The focus is how this change effects the Inuit population. To date it is the best use of 360 filming I have seen. The attention to sound, the care taken to cuts, ensuring a fluid immersive experience for viewers I suspect, is just a taste of what’s to come in 2016.                                             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Vicky Rose (Head of Communications)    This year it would be great to see more collaborative (crowd sourced) problem solving.  One of Nesta’s predictions for 2016 is that Universities will move on from their individualistic heritage and become challenge driven, harnessing the collective brainpower of students worldwide to solve sustainable development goals.  We’ve seen it in the gaming world: Back in 2011, players of  Foldit , an online puzzle game about protein folding solved a molecular puzzle in 3 weeks where researchers had worked on the problem for 13 years.  Cancer Research released Play to Cure™:  Genes in Space  – the world’s first free mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data and help beat cancer sooner.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     A comprehensive list of citizen science games can be found  here . Technology helps with networking individuals and games are a great way to drive engagement and increase accessibility in some of the more complex problems.                     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Richard Smith (MD)    I agree with PJ on VR in 2016. Oculus Rift and Windows HoloLens among many other devices are released and the API to integrate will be built in to Unity and other game engines. Gamification is about to crash in to the Gartner chasm in the Hypecycle. People are going to realise that is it not the answer to everything and has limited used in many applications such as L & D.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Serious Games to rise further as a serious experiential medium, fuelled by the technology advances, the faster and greater uptake of VR and other tech and the realisation mentioned above about gamification and it’s limited suitability in l & d Experiential/immersive learning whether “virtual” or real with things like “escape games”, role play, actors etc. Making learning as real as possible is going to be a trend too.                          Tom Cutler (Developer)     CES 2016  is currently on over the next few days, which is the consumer electronics show, so some interesting new tech will probably surface over the next few days. I know that the consumer version of the oculus rift is available for  preorder  now so I also expect to see a huge surge in VR activity.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Mark Pocock (Artist)    While I also agree with PJ that VR is going to the centre of attention in 2016, I would also like to point out, the strive for ever more realistic graphics is also turning a rather sharp corner. It doesn’t take a genius to compare game graphics from 10 years ago and now, to see that things have moved on significantly as it did in the decade before that and before that etc.. But in the few years or so the introduction of Physical Based Rendering (PBR), has seen visual believability step up to a whole new level.  In the background we have some fantastic shader coding that has allowed for believable specularity, reflections and global illumination across various platforms and hardware specifications.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      In the foreground are the Artists who utilise this technology to create beautiful visuals that brings the games industry nearer to film level CGI. So my feeling is that with tools such as Substance Painter/Designer and Quixel; we will start to see more flexible artistic workflows which in some cases ignore the likes of Photoshop with more focus on the development of material/substance libraries for painting straight onto models, to create lush looking PBR textures for use in top end engines, of whom are forever improving and expanding on their usage of it to push boundaries.   In summary I believe 2016 to be the year of PBR. Companies are already trying to push graphics to the next level using this new technology.  With games such as The Order: 1886 and Assassin’s Creed: Unity already showing this off in 2015, by 2016 I would expect its usage to be more mainstream.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         

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TEAM TOTEM 2016

New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:

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       Unlock: Employability: The Game       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to address the employability skills gap; for example the  UK government has brought in changes to education inspections  from September 2015, giving a higher profile for employability skills promotion, and an independent  report by McDonalds  clarifies the challenges and draws recommendations. At Totem we’ve got our own recommendations too! But first; here’s the background:   97% of UK employers  believe  soft skills are vital  for business success, with certain soft skills (communication and team work) being considered more important than academic achievements– yet  more than half of UK workers admit to not listing soft skills  anywhere  on their CV.  McDonalds report declares that in the  next five years over half a million workers  will struggle to progress due to soft skill short comings. This is estimated to amount to a  loss of almost £923 million, a year, by 2020 and almost £1.08 billion by 2025.   This isn’t the only cost a skills gap is going to generate. Due to the shortage of workers with appropriate skills, there will be unfilled positions in companies. This shortage of workers will generate a  loss of production, costing a further £7.44 billion, per annum, by 2020 rising to £14 billion by 2025 . A huge hit to UK businesses! This outcome may not be able to be averted completely however the cost can be reduced if greater esteem is given to soft skills now.  So what are soft skills and how can we develop them?  According to the report, soft skills can be broken up into six key clusters:   Communication skills, for example: effective listening, appropriate and good use of questions, clear and concise direction  Decision Making/Problem Solving, eg. The ability to identify and analyse an issue, take effective and appropriate action, recognise effect of decision  Self-Management skills, eg. Self-motivated and proactive personality traits, loyalty, adaptability and the ability to work well under pressure  Teamwork skills, eg. Positive and encouraging attitude, accountability, willingness to share ideas and listen to others’ views, punctual  Professionalism skills, eg. Appropriate language use, trustworthy, accepting of criticism, realistic understanding of job role    Leadership skills, eg. Strategic thinking, conflict management, respect for others knowledge, recognise others strengths and weaknesses, ability to build relationships   These are the skills that need to be developed for businesses and workers to progress over the next decade. If focus is given to these skills now and our attitudes towards them change, the gap can be bridged to some extent. The huge losses in production and progress will be reduced.  One suggestion, by the report, is to make soft skills training available to employees, equipping workers with appropriate skills for the future. McDonalds showed their devotion to training, and innovative thinking, in 2006; serious games were introduced into employee training and it proved very effective. Since 2006 the serious game industry has grown and improved. They are being used in all sectors for training, growing awareness, even in the school classroom.  Shouldn’t there be a game that can offer soft skills training? Here at Totem Learning we are happy to declare that we have a modern solution to this growing problem.  Introducing, Unlock: Employability!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Unlock: Employability  is a serious game for the education sector (aka game-based learning). It enables soft skill development for students through immersive, challenging game play and team work. Set on a mysterious tropical island, learners must work together to solve puzzles and be selected for their dream job.  The game must be played in teams of four – each player at their own PC. Communication is exclusively in game via an instant messaging window. This serves three purposes. The first is to train student’s communication skills, a vital soft skill for the workplace. Players will quickly learn that to succeed, they must give clear and concise direction to their team mates. The second is because it levels the playing field, those that ‘shout the loudest’ will not have the advantage. The third purpose is so all communication can be captured and assessed. Teachers can use this information to guide students on any area they struggle with and also commend them for areas they excel at.  Screens at the end of each level also provide the player with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The feedback screens highlight how these traits are applicable in the workplace and further ways to develop them.  Unlock: Employability is just one example of how serious games can combat real issues in the classroom, workplace, even healthcare. For further information on serious games that you can license for use in your classroom, or commission bespoke, contact the totem team today!        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"

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UNLOCK: EMPLOYABILITY: THE GAME

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to address the employability skills gap –for example the UK government has brought in changes to education inspections from September 2015, giving a higher profile for employability skills promotion and an independent report by McDonalds clarifies the challenges and draws recommendations. At Totem we’ve got our own recommendations too! But first; here’s the background:

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       Serious Games and gamification in Business    Recently Elearning! Magazine published an  article  on Serious Games in the corporate sector. As there were so many good points, and it is our core business at Totem Learning, I’ve taken the opportunity to reblog it here.  In summary:  The first part of the blog sets the scene and explains some of the reasons why games are so effective in the corporate sector. Points include:   Deeper engagement in the learning experience =  higher retention of knowledge and skill transfer  Games encourage failure and exploration, which better reflects the reality of work where there is normally more than one right answer  They use multiple intelligences  Learners are more actively involved and focused than when passively listening to lectures for example   In the second section the author discusses attributes of serious games and compares them to casual, entertainment games. In both you’ll find:   Backstory and story line  Game mechanics (how the game environment reacts to player actions)  Rules  Immersive graphical environment (including 2-D or 3-D graphics, sound and animation)  Challenge or competition  Risks and consequences   In the third there is a little around the cost and timescales of creating serious games. The point is made that the time and cost of creating serious games is coming down making it increasingly viable – and we agree with GameOn’s Bryan Austin when he says: “There isn’t a more effective way to really install key behaviours.”  The fourth section looks at what the future holds and we second many of the points mentioned, having created a customisable new starters’ induction game, and currently developing our exciting new off-the-shelf multiplayer leadership game. Another point we would add is that there is a real opportunity in the corporate sector as well for simulations using augmented and virtual reality. Predictions from the blog are as follows:   “An increase in the acceptance and use of game formats in more and more corporate learning venues as research evidence comes to light about what particular game types work for teaching what particular content, skills or processes.” (Kapp)  “What could create a better first impression for new employees than learning about their new employer by playing games on their smartphone?” (Austin)  “More ‘off-the-shelf’ games aimed at corporate-focused topics like leadership, negotiation, problem-solving and other skills imperative for executives and managers of today’s modern workforces.” (Kapp)  “Platforms that combine sims with other forms of learning. Learning & development departments will partner more with I.T. as full-bodied sims become the norm." (Franklin)  “More gamification: the use of elements of games to enhance learning in the classroom and online but not necessarily always the development of a full-scale game." (Kapp)  “Social learning being incorporated into new formats such as online knowledge- sharing environments — types that leverage talent in creative ways contribute to exponential rates of corporate growth.” (Franklin)  Overall, more serious games in corporate learning as the word gets around.   I’ve pasted the original blog below or you can visit it  here :            How Well-Designed Games Can Stimulate And Enhance The Learning Experience  By Jerry Roche  Serious computer games, as they are designed with the intent of improving a specific aspect of learning, are a “serious” alternative to traditional learning.  Studies over the past decade — including those conducted on business and economics students by the U.S. Department of Defence — prove that more job-transfer benefits are gained through game-enhanced learning as opposed to other modes of learning alone. Since workplace perfor mance depends on the learners’ depth of engagement during their learning experiences, the more engaging the exercise, the higher the retention of knowledge and transfer of skills to the job.  The game rewards decision-making and reasonable risk-taking; can add coaching along the way; and provides diverse experience in thinking skills themselves.  “There is a rapidly growing body of research that learning designed from the ground up as a game creates an ability to cognitively process and apply learning at a much higher level than traditionally designed training,” notes Bryan Austin of GameOn Learning. “The game itself is based around scenarios where the learners must solve problems and challenges to complete the game. The application-level practice builds the confidence to apply the learning back on the job, and also results in significantly greater retention of the learning.  Moreover, games encourage failure and exploration, according to Dr. Karl Kapp, professor, author, consultant and internationally recognized serious games champion. “In most instructional settings, he notes, “any kind of failure is deemed wrong or ‘bad,’ and learners quickly discover that only one answer is appropriate. So they only focus on one thing: getting the right answer — not necessarily learning the content. In most modern work environments, there are many ways of solving problems, dealing with obstacles and creatively finding solutions — more than one right answer.”  Serious games use multiple intelligences for learning (logical, special, linguistics, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, music); they are immersive, engaging and motivating through new technology and interactions; and the game structure is one with which the younger generations of employees are well acquainted.  ”“No matter what age," Dr. Kapp says, “learners learn best from engagement, and [they] tend to be far more involved and active in a game than they are in traditional instructional situations. We know that engaged learners learn more and are more focused than learners who are passively listening to lectures.  Serious Game Attributes  According to Tyson Greer of Ambient Insight, there are four types of simulation-based learning: physical object/ environmental; process; procedural; and situational.  Researchers Stephen M. Alessi of the University of Iowa and Stanley R. Trollip of S.R. Trollip & Associates compressed these four into two instructional strategies: learning about something (physical and process) and learning to do something (procedural and situational).  Game genre, complexity and platforms are as varied as those found in casual games. But they all share a number of traits, including:   Backstory and story line  Game mechanics (how the game environment reacts to player actions)    Rules  Immersive graphical environment (including 2-D or 3-D graphics, sound and animation)  Challenge or competition    Risks and consequences   Mary Jo Dondlinger, an assistant professor of Educational Technology at Texas A&M University-Commerce, says that a well designed game motivates players to spend extra time mastering skills. “A number of distinct design elements, such as narrative context, rules, goals, rewards, multi-sensory cues and interactivity, seem necessary to stimulate desired learning outcomes, she says.  Sharon Boller, president of Bottom-Line Performance, believes that games should avoid merely giving learners with a “click-next” experience: “Instead of telling people what they need to know, force them to find it or figure it out if they want to succeed in the game. Make succeeding in the game mirror what it takes to succeed in their jobs.”  Yet care must be taken before exposing serious games to potential learners. “[They] are most effective when the instructor first briefs the learners on what they are expected to learn during the game, the learners play the game, and then the instructor debriefs the students,” notes Dr. Kapp.  What About Time And Money?  The average cost for a custom-built adult e-learning game can range from $15,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on complexity and levels of play. Some games can be bought off the shelf and repurposed for much less.  But “the cost of custom-developed serious games is coming down, so we’ll see them in use more, especially if the learning is strategic or the audience size is large, says GameOn’s Austin. “There isn’t a more effective way to really install key behaviors.  It has been suggested that employee performance improvement is directly related to return on investment (ROI). Whether the game or simulation is part of a blended-media course or a stand-alone course, in many cases it can complement or replace existing course materials cost-effectively, taking the overall program or curriculum to a higher level and positively affecting ROI and corporate profits. Regrettably, there is no specific research data that applies to this generally accepted concept.  Time is another consideration if a certain learning initiative is on a strict deadline, because (unless you can use an off-the-shelf solution) it can take months to create a serious game that will provide the desired results. That problem is not without a solution.  “We’re working with teams that develop game-enabled learning platforms, says Austin. “These allow our clients to develop more engaging, highly-interactive learning in 10 percent of the time required to develop traditional e-learning. [That approach is] great for sales training, call centers and onboarding.”  What The Future Holds  As serious games converge with virtual worlds, enterprise learning environments will become integrated into the actual work environment. This is likely to have considerable impact on game design, as learning designers will need to concern themselves as much (if not more) with organizing and structuring the learning experience as with parsing and presenting learning content.  Here is what some respected analysts forecast:     “An increase in the acceptance and use of game formats in more and more corporate learning venues as research evidence comes to light about what particular game types work for teaching what particular content, skills or processes.” (Kapp)  “What could create a better first impression for new employees than learning about their new employer by playing games on their smartphone?” (Austin)  “More ‘off-the-shelf’ games aimed at corporate-focused topics like leadership, negotiation, problem-solving and other skills imperative for executives and managers of today’s modern workforces.” (Kapp)  “Platforms that combine sims with other forms of learning. Learning & development departments will partner more with I.T. as full-bodied sims become the norm." (Franklin)    “More gamification: the use of elements of games to enhance learning in the classroom and online but not necessarily always the development of a full-scale game." (Kapp)  “Social learning being incorporated into new formats such as online knowledge- sharing environments — types that leverage talent in creative ways contribute to exponential rates of corporate growth.” (Franklin)  Overall, more serious games in corporate learning as the word gets around.      The gamification market will reach 5.5 billion dollars by 2018, a 67% CAGR according to Markets & Markets. Are you ready?

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SERIOUS GAMES AND GAMIFICATION IN BUSINESS

Recently Elearning! Magazine published an article on Serious Games in the corporate sector. As there were so many good points, and it is a subject so close to our core business at Totem Learning, I’ve taken the opportunity to reblog it here.

In summary:

The first part of the blog sets the scene and explains some of the reasons why games are so effective in the corporate sector. Points include:

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       Ten reasons why you should switch to serious games

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TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO SERIOUS GAMES

Our at a glance top 10 of why you need to switch to serious games for your learning and development. This infographic taken from a previous blog post by Helen Routledge, shows you some of the research into why games based learning has such huge and far reaching benefits for organisational training.

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       How do we measure the effect of a serious game?       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This post is taken with kind permission from our Lead Instructional Designer, Helen Routledge's "Curiosity Clinic", for more blogs like this  click here . Enjoy!  There are many layers of measuring the impact of a certain training approach of intervention. Typically the accepted measure of proving the worth of a programme was to look at the ROI result. The ROI or Return on Investment gives a financial baseline as to the monetary outlay vs the gained results for a company or organisation. However ROI only gives us a piece of the puzzle when looking at effectiveness.  Personally I don’t focus on ROI. I appreciate it is important to my clients, but I prefer to focus on ROE or Return on Engagement. I prefer to look at the wider organisational and personal (user level) impacts to judge effectiveness. I believe that if you engage someone in a topic, you pique their curiosity and open their eyes to new areas then they will be motivated to learn more, explore more, communicate more and this will have a ripple effect on the organisation.  When looking at engagement there are several stages we look at. And of course this very much depends on the situation at the time, how much access can we have with end users, what data we can capture etc etc but below I’ve outlined the main methodologies we use.  Observation: During play observation we can learn so much about a user’s engagement level. Examining their body language for example we can see if they are leaning in, exploring the game world, and paying attention to the information that is presented to them. By listening to the users, especially if they are playing together in a team, or discussing their actions in a debrief we can truly get an understanding of how much users have taken in. This is great evidence of self-evident assessment, which if you ask me is pure gold when trying to assess if someone has learnt something or altered an attitude or behaviour.  Replay Statistics: If you’re looking for more hard and concrete data you can look at how often users revisit your game. This data is readily available on most LMS’s and of course when we host the games ourselves we can easily access the number of times players re-attempt a scenario or module. An example of this is that we know our Business Game is played on average 4.3 times per player.  Behaviour Change: The gold standard for knowing if you have made an impact is if the end user makes a change, consciously or unconsciously to their behaviour. This may be in the form of internal requests to seek out more information on a topic or a desire to tell others what they have discovered to implementing lessons they have learnt in the game.  Formal assessment: The traditional approach to measuring the effect of a training programme is of course a formal assessment. Be it a multiple question quiz or situational judgement assessment, formal standardised testing is still popular in many courses. In games we can still build this in but we always try to approach formal assessment in a softer way. Games lend themselves naturally to situational judgement assessment, and of course we all know we can do multiple choice questions and branching tree structures.  That data can be captured as a score in the LMS or as a detailed breakdown given to the user highlighting their strengths and areas they need to focus on.  These are just a few examples of the areas we look into when evaluating the success of our products. Every client and every situation is different and we always take into account their unique environment and situation to craft an evaluation piece that is suitable. Sometimes the data is built into the game interface as a numerical score and in other instances we impart the softer consequences of choosing a particular path. The mechanics we choose depends greatly on the audience demographics, environment culture and intended outcome.  But what is important and where I want to end is to reiterate the Return on Engagement. If you want to measure training impact then look at your training as a whole. Does it offer users opportunities to explore content freely and openly, does it encourage them and does the tone of content give meaning to them as individuals as well as the business.

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HOW DO WE MEASURE THE EFFECT OF A SERIOUS GAME?

There are many layers of measuring the impact of a certain training approach of intervention. Typically the accepted measure of proving the worth of a programme was to look at the ROI result. The ROI or Return on Investment gives a financial baseline as to the monetary outlay vs the gained results for a company or organisation. However ROI only gives us a piece of the puzzle when looking at effectiveness.

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       The benefits of serious games     1.        They are engaging  This is probably the most common argument you might hear if you are looking into Serious Games. Everyone in the industry screams this out of the top of their lungs, but that’s because it’s true. You may think Serious Games will only appeal to the young, to the gamers, but actually cleverly designed solutions should appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds regardless of whether they have played games before or not.  And here’s why! A well-crafted Serious Game will give the user something to care about; an objective that they want to achieve. An objective that is relevant to the business or situation that user currently finds themselves in. A Serious Games designer will tap into the motivations of the user and make them central to the story.  Games also present information as nested problems, they will give the user an objective but the user has to actively get involved with the scenario to work out how to achieve the objective.  Serious Games also utilise interesting characters and reward loops to keep you pushing forward. Users will start to buy in to the scenario and become emotionally invested in seeing it through.   2.        They are a ‘safe environment’  Do most learners have a place they can go and practice their skills in a realistic environment? Unfortunately unless you are a pilot or a nuclear technician the answer will most likely be no.  Most businesses won’t have a simulated business with real people and market data just there for their staff to practice on. Serious Games can be the missing link between knowledge and practical application on the job.  Therefore Serious Games can allow users to practice the skills or methodologies they have read about or go ‘off-piste’ with their own strategy and actually see the consequences of their actions without any impact to the business. In fact this practice in a virtual environment will benefit the business greatly by reducing the number of mistakes your staff will make in the real world.    3.        They work according to the laws of learning  Serious Games are designed to hook us in and appeal to our brain; their designs are mapped to how we intrinsically learn. As the main purpose of a Serious Game is to develop new knowledge, skills and to ultimately produce a behaviour change they have to align with how we learn.  We base our designs around the Laws of Learning which can be seen illustrated in the infographic below. This is quite a complicated subject so let’s examine one of the basic premises of learning. Looking back in time, we hear throughout every culture on earth, the process of telling stories to pass knowledge down to new generations. Stories create emotional connections which increase the likelihood of retention. In today’s society we use stories for leisure, books, movies and games, and they all appeal to us through clever use of narrative, characterisation and the epic challenge, but they are rarely present when it comes to learning.  Now the difference between reading an educational book or watching an educational movie and playing an educational game is that you, the player, the protagonist takes control, all the action revolves around you. You make the choices, the consequences happen to you and because the choices are wrapped up in a story in which you want to succeed you create an even stronger emotional connection to those actions. We even exhibit physiological responses when we fail in games, it feels so real sometimes that our brains can’t tell the difference on the most basic biological level.  Because you are placed at the centre of the action, you learn at your own pace. You don’t have to keep up with 25 others who have other jobs they have to get back to. You evaluate your actions in your own time. You can fail as many times as is necessary to grasp the solution.  This ability to learn at your own rate is down to the use of pacing in the design of these interventions. When designing an e-learning course for example there is a specific amount of content, a set number of screens, a set number of words per screen, some audio, animation  and if you’re lucky multiple choice questions to add some variety. However in a serious game the content is indistinguishable from the actions and choices you have to make, therefore you will only progress and succeed once you have mastered the knowledge. The content is paced in a careful way to ensure you understand, not just remember, but truly understand before continuing. Because you understand, new information stands out to you; you are able to pull on information stored in your long term memory and not just your working memory to solve problems.   4.        They are re-usable   A Serious Game should not be judged on how many learners complete the game but on how learners re-use the application. Serious Games by their very nature are designed to be played several times. They are generally non-linear and allow a learner to explore different paths and different consequences. This results in learners building a well-rounded view of a situation or problem.  From the games we host ourselves we know users play our games on average 4.3 times. This replay is reinforcing learning and through the use of scoring we can see that learners are getting better the more they play.  Serious Games can also be very flexible; you can use them in many ways. You can apply a context to the learning experience and ask your learners to focus on different learning objectives or to play in a certain way with a certain mind-set for example. Or you can apply the same application to different stages of the learning lifecycle, as a precursor to a course and as a refresher 6 months down the line for example.   5.        You can roll specialist knowledge out to a wider audience  Serious games are great for taking complex topics like six sigma for example, that have traditionally been part of an intensive classroom course (which could be expensive to roll out to a whole organisation) and turning it into a case study game so that the learning can be accessed by a wider audience. Yes they train to a lower level but at least they will begin to understand the same lessons that your senior management are learning ensuring your organisation from top to bottom are speaking the same language.   6.        They are cost effective  Cost effectiveness of Serious Games is reached because of some of the reasons I’ve already discussed. Firstly they can be re-used many times per learner and across the organisation in different contexts and they can take complex content and reach a wider audience ensuring your message is heard by everyone in the organisation.  OK so there may be an up front development cost but if a Serious Game is built correctly they can be modified and tweaked for years to ensure they are kept up to date.   7.        You can capture data!  Because you’re making lots (and I mean lots!) of decisions in a game, and those decisions are very telling about your thought process, you can capture the journey to a particular point as well as that final end result.  Imagine if you received all of that data from everyone in your leadership team, your middle managers or your entire organisation. You could map the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation and create and informed strategy for how to address them or go down to the level of the individual learner and begin to create a truly personalised learning plan based on their actual performance (which can be measured through situational judgement games for example).   8.        They are expected  Serious Games and Interactive learning applications are reaching a stage where new hires will expect them. Companies who use these approaches are often seen as progressive in terms of their learning and development and will attract the top talent. These methodologies will also help retain talent by ensuring your in house learning and development is enjoyable and your employees want to keep learning.  9.       They complement other forms of learning  As I mentioned in number 2, games can be the missing link in your learning and development tool kit – you need a knowledge piece, you still need on the job training , reinforces etc., and Serious Games compliment these other forms of learning brilliantly.  A new study by MIT has revealed that your attention levels are lower in a lecture than when you are asleep and the new generation of workers as well as those already in your organisation are looking for new ways to learn. A single method or non-interactive method of learning delivery just doesn’t cut it anymore. More than likely they’ve already started learning outside of work, using MOOC’s or YouTube.  Serious Games are just one aspect you should consider as part of your digital learning strategy.   10.    Because they work!  Recent research by Sitzmann and Ely titled “A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Effectiveness of Computer-Based Simulation Games” By the University of Colorado Denver Business School (Oct 2010), looked at the instructional effectiveness of Computer Based Simulation Games relative to a comparison group, on a comprehensive set of training outcomes, particularly focusing on the post-training outcomes. Data was collected from 6,476 participants ranging from students (undergraduate and graduate), employees through to military personnel. Sitzmann found that self-efficacy; declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge and retention results suggest that training outcomes are superior for trainees taught with simulation games relative to the comparison group.  Overall, declarative knowledge was 11% higher for trainees taught with simulation games than a comparison group; procedural knowledge was 14% higher; retention was 9% higher; retention was 9% higher; and self-efficacy was 20% higher. (Ely and Sitzmann findings, 2010)     If you want to talk more about my top 10 or to suggest others I’ve missed tweet me on @helenroutledge

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THE BENEFITS OF SERIOUS GAMES

This is probably the most common argument you might hear if you are looking into Serious Games. Everyone in the industry screams this out of the top of their lungs, but that’s because it’s true. You may think Serious Games will only appeal to the young, to the gamers, but actually cleverly designed solutions should appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds regardless of whether they have played games before or not.

 

And here’s why! ...

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