Interactive Games for Business Training
January 26, 2011 2 Comments
With 25 years experience in the design of games, simulations and other forms of e-learning for business, Bob Becker, provides readers with an introduction to the area of game based learning for business training. He focuses mainly on rhetoric rather than taking an academic approach to his analysis and this may work to his advantage as the main objective of the paper it seems, is to convince the non academic reader of the virtues of games for training.
Becker begins with an anecdote uncovering an organisations resistance to welcoming ‘fun’ into their training. This is an all too often familiar reaction designers of serious games face. Even when commissioned, some clients, just don’t want to push the boundaries too far. But that’s another blog!
Through further anecdotal evidence Becker summarises why using games and game based approaches to training are, or should be, a ‘no brainier’.
After reviewing games, the importance of play, and the current state of play, Becker introduces his four pillars of game design for corporate e-learning; this basic taxonomy is his own invention rather than the product of scholarly research, but he argues, it aids the understanding of how business training games work:
Becker proposes the four pillars as;
1. Puzzle. Problem-solving play that spawns and develops competencies
2. Scenario. Stories in which players join and learn from others’ experience
3. Simulation. Exploration in which players learn from their own experience
4. Immersion. Play enriched with affective and conative aesthetics.
After laying the foundations for his view on the world of business training games, he further goes into detail regarding how these games come into being and reiterates the need for good Instructional Design; reinforcing in the readers mind that he is making a clear distinction between entertainment and training games; a valuable clarification for new comers to the field.
When it comes to evaluating games, and anyone familiar to the industry will be aware that there is not a great deal of empirical research out there to find, Becker argues that our current systems of measuring ROI and effectiveness of training are too ‘backwards looking’ and perhaps are missing the valuable aspects of games; mainly the appeal of the genre and increased participation in learning. He also suggests that rather than looking at training games as a distinct genus, to other forms of training, that instead we should leverage the reams of research from good interactive e-learning, which uses similar approaches in its design.
Becker continues to examine a wide range of topics such as the plethora of available platforms, the players perspective, the level of fidelity in the game, and with each area provides advice and guidance. Overall this paper provides some good solid justifications for using games in business training, which could easily be applied to other training areas. If you’re looking for academic references and journals, this is not the paper for you. If you’re looking for a good place to start with clean, crisp summaries, and easy to digest discussions, you can ‘hear’ all of Becker’s anecdotes and read the whole paper here.