Game on - time to play to learn

Are you an Achiever? – you like to accomplish & master things, or perhaps more of an Explorer? – going on voyages of discovery with no particular goal in sight. Maybe you prefer to Socialise and interact with others, or are you the stereotype gamer – a Killer – where winning is everything. These are the four Battle player types and is one common way to describe the psychology behind games. The use of games or 'gamification' of learning within business is going to be a significant growth area, and in designing serious games, it is important to appeal to all four types of core motivations. As Jesse Schell eloquently reminds us in this short video, learning is about changing behaviour and effective game design focuses on this too.

The use of games within business is not new, but was often aimed at very high risk situations, e.g. better to crash in a flight simulator that cost £100,000s to build than an actual plane. Today, games have entered the mainstream, being played across different devices and increasingly in online multiplayer environments, thereby appealing to many different groups & cross sections of society.

The main debate when it comes to their application to learning in business is whether 'gamification' drives the wrong types of behaviour, i.e. those badges, points, leaderboards, levels and other extrinsic rewards just encourage the user to play the game. Advocates of gaming in learning will argue, (they seem to be in the majority - at least the vocal majority) that these extrinsic rewards primarily act as catalysts to drive participation. A creative and thoughtfully designed game taps into our more intrinsic motivations , such as accomplishment, exploration or social interaction, and will successfully result in delivering the desired behavioural change in the work place. The ultimate goal.

Encouraging gaming may also be good for business and learning, as according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, gamers exhibit five traits, being bottom line orientated, understand the power of diversity, thrive on change see learning as fun, and they marinate on the edge (i.e. explore radical ideas and innovations).

Over time we can expect to see more research being undertaken to further understand the psychology of gamers and game design for learning within organisations. There was much scepticism and unease about the use of Social Media within a business, which has largely evaporated today. I suspect over the next couple of years we will see a similar shift in attitudes towards games.

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly @BruceyGoosey. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Learning.

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