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       Totem's top 10 serious games    Who doesn’t love a list?!  The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games (not to be confused with Gamification). It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all!  It was very difficult narrowing down our favourite games to just ten. How can you compare a game like ‘Americas Army’, an army simulation game boasting prestigious awards such as “Guinness World Record for ‘Most Downloaded War Game’ 2009” and the eagerly awaited, ‘Code Spells’ which teaches Coding in an immersive magical landscape? They deal with two very different subjects and have different goals. But after lots of ‘umm’s and ‘aah’s we have collated a list together (with no real order) to share with you accompanied with the promise to explore all the genre has to offer in greater depth in the coming weeks.     Re-Mission     A third person shooter developed by HopeLab with direct input from medical staff and young cancer sufferers. It teaches children in remission about their treatments and the importance of their follow up care in a unique and informative way. It’s been a huge success! Achieving its goal with such success a sequel has even been released boasting even further successes such as winning ‘the Parents’ Choice Gold Award’.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Free Rice     An incredibly worthwhile game that everybody should play as often as they can. This game educates players on various subjects while simultaneously helping those most vulnerable.  It has accomplished so much since its release, late 2007; over 98,117,454,870 grains of rice have been donated to those in need through this simple multiple choice game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       Food Force    A contender for the most downloaded game in the Serious Game genre and a sequel co-developed with Konami; this game teaches the importance of food nutrition.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       
           Nightmare: Malaria     Educating players on malaria while simultaneously working towards the end of the, completely preventable, disease; this game is challenging, both in gameplay and emotionally, with an impressively beautiful art style.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          September 12th      A simple, yet profound game! Straight to the point; Shoot or Don’t. Very few games have achieved the level of impact this game has and none to our knowledge in such a short time frame. If you make the choice to ‘play’ the game you quickly realise how impulsive action only brings you further away from your goal.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        DragonBox     Secretly teaching children Algebra! DragonBox proudly boasts teaching 83% of children the basics of algebra in under an hour of game play. What results! This game had to make the list. If you check out the reviews on the Play Store adults are raving about the game. There’s been some obvious competition between parents and children to play the app too!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Leadership Game     Shameless Promotion! Our leadership game has been used by all sorts of people in managerial professions, including Football Management teams and CEO’s. It is currently undergoing a complete upgrade with some really interesting and innovative mechanics accompanied by beautiful graphics being included in the new release.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Typing of the Dead       
        
        
        Fighting off Zombies while learning to type; an inspired combination! Lovers of the zombie genre will find endless hours of entertainment playing this touch-typing game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Grace’s Diary     Gorgeous graphics, simple gameplay, abusive relationships- this game deals with this sensitive issue effectively, providing players with the necessary skills to recognise abusive relationships (whether their own or a friends') and information on how best approach the situation.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Business Game     More Shameless Promotion! But we believe in our products and we know their merit so no apologies from us! This simulation game teaches great business and enterprising skills regardless of age or experience. The aim is to turn a profit and run a successful business, adjusting constantly to the market for three virtual years. Players will have to be adaptable and forward thinking to beat the game, it’s a real challenge! You can always message us for a free trial and try it for yourself; but be warned the Yellow Robin Reliant!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There are so many exceptional games in this innovative and ever-progressing genre; this list is just a taster! Serious Games are used to educate on so many issues it would be folly to think this list is conclusive. It is just a scratch on the surface! In the coming weeks, we will be going into the different applications Serious Games have been used for and feature the top ten of those categories.   In the meantime let us know your favourites! We would love to hear your views too, tweet us @teamtotem or use #TL10

TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES

Who doesn’t love a list!

The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games. It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all! 

       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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       Girl Power!    International Women’s Day is here again! What a great opportunity to write a post and allow the members of the team to contribute and share their stories!  According to the IWD website  ‘International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.    Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.’   Each story below has been written by one of our team members. They represent our experiences and stories from the industry we are so passionate about. We hope you enjoy reading them.     Raising expectations and smashing the glass ceiling!     Helen Routledge: Lead Instructional Designer and Head of Production   I couldn't agree more with this sentiment. I am and always have been an advocate for women in games and the sciences and I hope that the more we let young girls now about the options that are available for them to more progress we will see.  My personal passion to help others really started to grow when I was in my early 20s’ I was out working with a school in Dundee to design some mini games for an educational product. I was testing a game that encouraged the students to reflect on their life goals and I was working that day with a group of 4, 15 year old girls. The game asked them to think about their ideal job/goal in life. The girls discussed this in great excitement but when it came to telling me what they wanted to do, their answers absolutely astounded me. There were two career choices open to them 1) Prostitution or 2) Single Mother. Now I thought these girls were joking when I first heard this, but the more I listened the more serious I realised they were being. The girl who wanted to be a single mother had actually worked out a balance sheet for the number of kids she thought she needed to support the life style she wanted. Now regardless of how fanciful that might be, she had actually thought in detail about it and performed some serious plans.  I really should point out that at the time Dundee was the Single Mother capital of Europe and it was a serious cultural problem for the city. That may have changed now, but at the time, many students I worked with were from 4th generation unemployed or single parent families who knew how to exploit the system. This isn't a blog about benefits at all, that’s not the focus. The issue is these 15 year olds; despite having all the skills to work out a balance sheet didn't see any future for themselves after school.  I found this profoundly sad and started to wonder why and how this could happen?     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
                    
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Growing up I was surrounded by strong female role models! My mother for one, who told me I can be anything I want to me, I just need to work hard and apply myself. Wonder Women, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Zena Warrior Princess, even The Spice Girls, the list can go on and on. I did start to examine the female role models available at the time in the media and I didn't come up with very much. It seemed we had lost our strong females in the public eye.  So from that day on I decided to help as many young women as I can move beyond their often limited view of their potential and open their eyes to the possibilities that are out there.  I started an initiative where we took a group of 4 young girls from a local school on work experience every year and I mentored them to design a game. One group showed so much potential they were invited to present at the Women in Games Conference! Each girl left that week feeling better about themselves, more empowered and positive about their future career options than they did when they started.  Initiatives like this are desperately needed to give young girls the confidence that they can achieve anything they set out to achieve. For me, it's all about passion, knowing you can achieve more.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Many years on from that day in that Dundee High School I still marvel at how few women there are at the industry conferences I attend. I'm pretty sick of turning up and not seeing a single woman on the bill, or being the only women speaker myself. Personally I'm incredibly motivated to push myself as hard as I can and achieve as much as I can. I never think about the glass ceiling. To me it doesn't exist, I will just continue to prove my worth through my work and fight against anyone who tries to put me down.  However I know the road isn't a short one and I experience personal challenges such being asked to use my girlyness to help with client chemistry, or being patted on the head, patronised and talked over. But these are the challenges we need to overcome and through my work I know I can change this and I'm determined to continue encouraging more women into games!    Girl Power in a male dominated industry     Anna Bailey: Instructional Designer   Last week myself and 2 colleagues attended the latest games lab event in Birmingham. It was a great evening where we met lots of new and interesting people. After the event we were outside awaiting the arrival of the taxi when one of my colleagues mentioned just how few women there were at the event, I commented back that I just didn't notice any more. That got me to thinking, what does that say about me and the industry that I am in?  From the beginning of my venture into the games industry, as a female, I have always been a minority. On my games design course I was 1 of only 4 girls on a course made up of 60 people. When working as an intern in a small company I was the only woman in the company, whenever I have attended any events such as Eurogamer and Gamescom it has been full of guys. If I’m honest I don’t think I notice as much anymore as it doesn't bother me being in a room full of guys, I feel like it’s  a room full of people and I don’t find it even a bit intimidating. But should I just take this as the norm and the  industry standard or should we be doing something about it?  I decided to put a call out on twitter, to gauge people’s opinions and feelings on women in the games industry, I wanted to start a discussion. I got some interesting points, which started some interesting discussion on the subject. The first point was the need for more females in the industry, do we actually need more women or it is just fine the way it is?      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        To me this discussion raised a valid point, should the industry directly reflect the audience, in some cases does this depend on the type of game you are developing. Another point which I think is very true, is it that there still seems to be a huge misconception that it’s the majority males that play games when in fact it’s pretty much 50/50 now. I think its good to point out that men also face similar problems in other industries such as primary school teaching and psychology.  Another point that I wanted to try and tackle is the idea of setting targets to increase the number of women in the games industry.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     I think that these are valid points, I for one, would not like to be employed soley because I am a woman. But another point is that  studies  have shown that people employ people who are like them. So do we need to step in to break this cycle allowoing people to consider other, female candidates.  The final point someone made is that although women are misrepresented in games, so are males as pointed out here.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There seems to be a complete distortion of how both sexes are portrayed in the majority of games. From the big hulking guys in Gears of war to the ridiculously clad Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V. This ultimately comes down to feeling well represented, if this was a minority of the characters in games then I think it would be less of an issue. But as it is the majority of games that have these unrealistic characters I feel as though this has to change.  I have to say that even just taking a brief look into this subject that I have already gained so much information and fresh insight. I personally feel that games are progressing forward and I hope to see lots of women being made aware that production of video games is a great career with so much to offer and for them to know that it is as open to them as any other industry out there.    Don’t let other people put you down or belittle you   I haven’t been the industry that long and I have already been subject to some sexism. One of the ones that really stick in my mind was an occasion when we were having drinks with some people off my game design course. I had recently returned to university after studying for 2 years and completing a year in the games industry. We were having drink when one of the guys asked me across the table if I actually liked games. I was completely taken back by the comment, he then went onto say that I ‘didn't look like the typical person’ who would play games or be on the course. My immediate reaction was to exclaim that of course I play games! I then didn't really say much more on the subject due to my astonishment at the comment. Looking back now I wish I had called him out in front of everyone or at least tried to  question his thinking. I think part of my point is, don’t let anyone put you down or make you think that you are any less worthy. To me it doesn't matter if you've played all the games under the sun or just a few select games, what matter is that you have an opinion.    It’s important to stay true to what you believe in   One important point to remember is to stay true to what you believe in. Keep your passion and use that to drive you forward. It’s also important to be uncompromising in what you believe in, if you feel as though something you are doing is compromising your values, then speak up. If you are unhappy with how you are being treated, then say something. Don’t deviate due to money or being pushed down a certain path else you will soon find that you will lose your passion or become unhappy in your job.   It’s important to have a female role-model   For me it’s been a huge help to have positive role models in my life. I have always had strong female people to look up to. In my personal life I have always looked up to my Mum who is a single mum and is the most amazing person. Growing up I always had positive female role models within the media in the age of girl power. I also watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire slayer and just loved that Buffy was stylish, clever and funny. I am really fortunate now that I even have a role model within my work place. Our own Helen Routledge has taught me a fair bit about how to handle yourself in the world of work and has given me quite a bit to think about after some of our little chats. In quite a few ways she is pretty inspiring to me. The point is here, that it doesn't matter who your role model is just pick one and strive to be as clever, confident or knowledgeable as they are.     The benefits of a balanced work place and an interesting experiment in Second Life      Richard Smith: Managing Director    I've always believed in creating an equal work place and believe equality produces a better culture and ultimately better products for our clients. If you doubt this check out our Sci-fi themed “diversity and equality” project.  60% of the team at Totem are women; this hasn't happened as part of a plan to surround myself with female employees rather it’s happened as a result of hiring the best people for the job. The team dynamics work really well and we have some very interesting discussions in the office with all the different perspectives the team members bring.  Obviously as a man I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in the real world but through the development of virtual worlds this has changed! So, and those of you who know me know I like to try things out, I decided to set up an account and enter Second Life as a female character to see what would happen. So I set up a female name and a female avatar and away I went. It was quite an eye opening experience, one that was very different to the experience with my male avatar. I found other people would approach me more easily and start chatting, which was nice, but also I was chatted up almost immediately and most worryingly I was patronised quite a bit.  What was interesting is that I am still me, the same person, I didn't alter my behaviour or personality yet everyone in the Second Life reacted differently to me.    International women’s day and equal opportunities for gamers!     Nicky Rhodes: 3D Graphics Artist and all round good egg    I would like to introduce you to my view on playing games and the lack of decent main female  characters. Things have been changing in this industry for a while and for the better, just take a look at Tomb raider Reboot but for me who has finished Tomb raider a while ago now I want something new to play.   However I have asked myself what other game characters do I enjoy playing?  I like characters that are a bit quirky but also kick ass I like playing Ratchet and Clank, Alice in wonderland,  I like playing dirt and driving games but I presume the character you drive is male by how the rest of the characters interact with you.  I really would like to be a female character driving a Monster truck and there are so many potential games out there for both women and men if they were given the option to select a character. It’s not hard to change the voice, the mesh and the texture of the character.  As a games artist I would love to create a female kick ass character like Tank girl, I would love a tank girl game all gritty and 90’s Punk.  Like Rockstar and GTA, braking boundaries for men and being able to be allowed to do what the hell they want, be it Shooting people or yoga.   I would love to work on a game with a strong female character and for it to be multi-player to enable women to let their hair down and socialise on-line like guys do, because yes your right women like to do that too and to be able to go mental and I think Tank girl would be a good way to start.  At the end of the day aren't games meant to be a form of escape from reality and a useful form of learning things about yourself and other things?   International Equals day   The thing that annoys me about international woman’s day is the title; this in its self is segregation.  Generally speaking when men see the word international women’s day they visualise a WI meeting and that women are fighting for our rights again and why this article should concern them as it's a woman thing.  We are past the woman’s power to vote stage and have been for a long while.  Every so often its good to glimpse back into the past and see how mature things have got or getting.  I would prefer to call it international 'equals day’; this would suggest this article is aimed for anyone to read.   “No matter what anyone thinks or tells you, if you want to do a job then just do it. I work in a company that is mainly made up of men but have been welcomed and am not treated differently. If you are good at what you do it shouldn't matter who you are.”  Keziah Bailey, Lead digital Artist Double Negative.

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GIRL POWER!

International Women’s Day is here again! What a great opportunity to write a post and allow the members of the team to contribute and share their stories!

According to the IWD website ‘International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. So make a difference, think globally and act locally!! Make every day International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.’

Each story below has been written by one of our team members. They represent our experiences and stories from the industry we are so passionate about. We hope you enjoy reading them. 

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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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