Skepticism toward the idea of learning through video games is now a thing of the past as more and more companies are committing to game-based learning.

In recent years, numerous scientific studies have confirmed the many benefits of this innovative learning method. The findings show greater interactivity with course content, higher completion and engagement rates among employees, and learning that stands the test of time. These clear benefits have led the serious game market to be on pace to exceed $8 billion by 2022.

The question training and development managers are now asking is no longer whether they should be implementing game-based learning programs but rather how they can successfully do so.

Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning

The novelty of the format and general confusion regarding such fundamental concepts as gamification and game-based learning can undermine training. In the context of corporate training, the term “gamification” refers to the use of game mechanics to motivate learners to complete their training. Concepts usually found in games, such as competitions, points, rankings, badges and awards, can be used to motivate users to complete a training segment.

Game-based learning takes the concept one step further. The whole learning process is intrinsically connected to the game, and simply by progressing through it, the user acquires new skills and knowledge. Success is largely due to the ease at which simulators allow users to practice without cost or risk, observe the results of their decisions, and receive personalized feedback.

Now that we fully understand the difference between these two concepts, we can dive into what it takes to successfully implement the latter concept into your training program.

1. Learning First

The format of your training should not make you forget the reason your employees are going through it in the first place: to learn. The video game is simply a tool to effectively transmit the content.

A video game may include state-of-the art graphics and virtual reality; however, it is not game-based learning if it is conducted solely through lectures or videos. Online trivia games are also not game-based learning, since they reward the acquisition of knowledge but do not transmit them to learners through practice and interaction.

Simulators for learning how to fly an airplane or perform a surgical procedure are examples of genuine game-based learning. When applied to organizational training, simulators for skills like negotiation, sales, team management, time management and even customer support can be used to accelerate and reinforce learning.

Experiential learning has long been an essential requirement for in-class training. This requirement should not be compromised because you are conducting your training online.

2. Practical and High-Quality Content

Learners are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to their training. Through a simple Google search, they can instantly find all the information they could ever need – many times, free of cost.

For this reason, learners need to believe that the training they are being asked to participate in will have a positive impact on them. Your learners want fewer theories, models and buzzwords. They are in desperate need of more tips, techniques, tools and tricks that they can actually apply every day.

3. Personalized Feedback

Real learning requires feedback. Find solutions that provide your learners with personalized feedback so they can discover what they can improve on and how they can attain their goal.

4. Competition

One of the benefits of video games is their ability to use competition to increase user engagement. Learners can compete against both themselves (through challenges, levels, feeling of progress, etc.) and their co-workers (through rankings, competitions, public recognition, etc.). While learning through video games is possible without competition, rankings and friendly competition can achieve better results.

5. Working With Experienced Providers

A team of capable training consultants lacking knowledge in video games will be unable to successfully combine the gaming elements necessary to make the program engaging and ultimately useful for the employee. A team of programmers with extensive knowledge in video games but no experience in training is similarly unproductive. Find a balance between pedagogic capabilities and game design capabilities.

Find providers with sufficient experience and success in game-based learning and solid portfolio of satisfied customers. The best providers are those with quality products and awards or international recognition for their work. The best training video games also receive awards just like great films.

6. Communications Campaign

One of the secrets to the success of any training is a solid communications campaign. Use posters, create a teaser campaign, send the video game trailer to learners, offer merchandising as prizes, post the rankings and give awards to winners. Communications campaigns can lead to a dramatic spike in completion rates and participant engagement.

It is becoming easier to implement a game-based learning program in your company.

Ultimately, by using these tips and a bit of common sense, launching a game-based learning project is not complicated. Current solutions are more accessible and cheaper and have overcome the technical obstacles of the past.

Good luck with your game-based learning project!