The term serious game may seem to be a bit of an oxymoron; however, it has been in existence for a significant amount of time. The first types of serious games didn’t rely on computer technology, but rather on simple card games and board games that required the player to make choices that continued to impact on the outcome of the game. As early as the 1970′s the value of the serious games in training exercises was well known in a variety of settings including use by the military, business leaders and educational facilities.
Modern types of serious games still use the basic premise of decision making and real world applications to guide learners through scenarios. These interactive computer programs teach skills and allow learners to investigate the results of specific decisions on final outcomes in a safe environment. Objectives are clearly stated in the training simulation and distractions and extraneous information is limited to focus in on the important aspects of the training. There are clearly defined rules which are followed both by the interactive 3D software program as well as by the user. This means that outcomes based on the objectives for learning can be evaluated, monitored and compared.
The Fun Part
One of the major reasons why serious games are so effective in training programs is because they incorporate online game playing fun and motivation into what may be rather abstract or repetitive types of learning if taught differently. The game styled simulations provide a high level of practical skill development in a virtual reality that is identical to the real world environment. Even though fun is part of the training, the specific objectives and skills are still well developed and this combination keeps learners engaged and involved in the material, maximizing retention and interest. It also provides an option for repetition at the learner’s request, which simply cannot be duplicated using traditional training methods.
Serious games, which fall under the category of Edutainment, are perfect for both adult learners as well as children. Since the rewards and responses from the game are instantaneous a learner can make corrections to improve their score as they move through the different training scenarios.
Best Use Of Serious Games
There are a wealth of different businesses, agencies, companies and educational facilities that benefit from the use of serious games and online training simulations. Hospitals, first responders, military, police and firefighters can use the training to help develop a better understanding of protocols and procedures without the need for real world mock-ups and role plays. Educational facilities can teach abstract concepts through games that allows the learner to understand the consequences of decisions in a very safe and non-threatening environment.
With companies that specialize in 3D game authoring and software development there is really no limit to the use of serious games in any type of business and training environment. Making the serious game and simulations relevant to your particular training objectives is really the very best use of this new and groundbreaking technology in training and continuing professional development.