It’s no secret that your brain is engaged in many ways when you’re playing a game on a computer, tablet or phone. This includes problem solving, working memory, and learning new skills (yes, gaming requires skills!).

All of these abilities can be transferred to the workplace. That’s why adding gaming to your training programs could change how employees learn and solve problems — in a big way.

What Is Game-based Learning?

Simply put, game-based learning involves using game principles to enhance the effectiveness of training programs and other workplace learning initiatives. Gamification is the application of game design principles to non-game applications to make them more fun or engaging.

While traditional training programs may use video tutorials or reading material as their primary learning method, game-based learning incorporates video games or physical sports elements into these materials to enhance engagement.

Top 5 Best Practices for Using Games in Training

1. Create Games That Mimic the Actual Work Environment

You can use gamification and game design to create a game that mimics the work environment. This gives you a better understanding of what your employees do daily and creates an opportunity for them to learn how to improve their on-the-job skills in a more controlled environment.

An example of this is creating a simulation game where you have to provide customer service over the phone. The idea here is to make the game so realistic that it feels like real life. You can use call simulator software to create a call center experience for employees to practice their customer service skills in a realistic but risk-free setting.

2. Use Games as Warm-ups

Use games as warm-ups to get learners in the right frame of mind for more structured activities, like lectures or presentations.

While games aren’t always appropriate as main activities or learning objectives, they’re great at preparing people for more formal learning sessions. You can use them as warm-ups or icebreakers before lecturing on a topic or giving a presentation on a new process or policy change.

There are two types of games that lend themselves well to this approach:

Active games: These are usually physical activities where players move around, such as “Simon Says,” musical chairs and relay races.

Brain teasers and puzzles: These mental activities, like riddles, logic puzzles, and even online card games challenge your brain in fun ways.

3. Develop a Gamified Version of Your Training Program

Work with a multiplayer online game developer to create a gamified version of your training program. The developer will be able to customize it so that it fits the needs of your business.

For example, if you have an existing training program, they can convert it into a web-based game with badges and leaderboards. Or they may be able to design an entirely new program from scratch that incorporates elements from other games that work well with your audience.

4. Use the Element of Mystery or Uncertainty

When a person is trained on a skill, they gain knowledge and skills they can apply in future situations. However, it may be forgotten if the skill is not used often enough.

To prevent this from happening, we need to use the element of mystery or uncertainty (the unknown) to drive investigation and experimentation while training professionals. The following are three steps to establishing this dynamic:

  • Ensure your instructions are clear and straightforward; don’t overload them with unnecessary information.
  • Require your trainees to figure some things out by themselves rather than giving them step-by-step instructions every step of the way. Let them figure out how to get things done on their own.
  • Create challenges for them so that they discover new ways of completing tasks or solving problems without telling them exactly what to do beforehand (this is especially important when training people on creative problem solving).

5. Use Feedback Surveys

Find out what motivates your employees by conducting surveys or interviews about their interests and passions.

You can include social media games to see what types of games your employees are playing and which ones they love the most — this will help you determine which types of games will resonate with them on an emotional level and make them want to learn more about the topic being taught in your training program.

In Closing

When a company is looking to create a training program, they need something that will be relevant, useful and engaging. Using games can achieve these goals. Through play and rewards, companies can keep their employees entertained and educated at the same time: a win-win.