Even though game-based training has been around for years, there are still many misconceptions about it. To set the record straight, let’s dive into why game-based training isn’t the same as gamification, how games improve learning outcomes and why your non-millennial employees will not only tolerate game-based training but might even use it more than the millennials.

1. It’s the Same as Gamification

Many people assume that gamification and game-based training are the same, but they’re not. While the terms sound similar, their results are different.

Gamification involves adding game elements, usually points, badges and leaderboards, to existing content. Because the content itself hasn’t changed, organizations often see an initial increase in engagement, followed by a drop-off as the newness of the gamification wears off.

Game-based training, on the other hand, transforms training content into a game, and employees learn as they play. Learning becomes active, and game mechanics challenge users to engage frequently in order to master the content and “level up.” This approach not only increases engagement with training, but it also helps improve retention.

2. It’s Only for Millennials

While many people have a mental image of young, male gamers, the truth is that gaming is common across generations and genders. In fact, some studies have found that women over 40 play video games more frequently than other groups and are the fastest-growing segment of gamers.

The “games are just for millennials” myth isn’t a demographic issue; it’s a strategy problem. To make game-based training approachable for non-millennial employees, it’s important to make it easy to understand how it’s relevant. If your training program is useful to non-millennial employees, they are actually more likely than millennials to become regular users. Where millennials can be critical of poor game quality, non-millennial employees are more forgiving of game design problems as long as the content is useful and the games are easy to play.

3. It Doesn’t Work

People unfamiliar with game-based training often hear that it makes learning fun and assume that employees will waste time playing games and not learn anything. But training doesn’t have to be serious to be effective.

Yes, game-based training is designed to make learning fun, but it’s also designed to improve learning outcomes and help employees improve their skills quickly. When employees enjoy training, they’re more engaged, which helps them remember and apply more of what they learn.

4. It Doesn’t Need to Be Related to Learners’ Jobs, Organization or Industry

Game-based training won’t rescue irrelevant content. Like any training program, the information covered needs to be relevant and useful to the people participating. In addition, with game-based training, there is another level to consider: Is the game design relevant? Too often, programs include an irrelevant game in an attempt to make learning fun. The best games are relevant to the organization, industry or job role of the learners. This personalization is especially useful for onboarding or change management programs.

5. It’s Time-consuming

Game-based training can reduce overall training time. Because game-based training modules are often short and fit into daily workflows, employees don’t need to leave the office for full-day classroom sessions. And, because game-based training can improve retention, employees need to take training less frequently.

Game-based training also doesn’t need to be time-consuming for the instructional designer, as long as the platform you use supports game creation. Many platforms now have game-based authoring capabilities that make it as easy to create game-learning as it is to create a traditional e-learning course.

It doesn’t matter how old your employees are; game-based training is an effective tool to increase training engagement, improve learning outcomes and reduce overall training time. Just remember to design your games to be engaging and relevant to maximize effectiveness.

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