Choosing to build a learning game is a bold move, but one which can really pay off. A study by the UC-Denver Business School discovered that people who play learning games end up with 11% higher factual knowledge, 14% higher skill-based knowledge, and 9% higher retention than those who use other methods.
Unfortunately, simply saying ‘we’re going to build a learning game’ doesn’t give you a clear idea of exactly what you want to do. Learning games come in all shapes and sizes, along with any number of themes and mechanics.
With all of this choice out there, it can be tempting to avoid anything abstract in favour of a game which directly relates to your content. For example, if you’re training retail staff you could look for a game which is set inside a busy store.
While it’s nice to find a game which links up well with your content, it’s definitely not essential. In fact, if you’re not using a game which has been custom-built for your audience (which will make the cost skyrocket), attempting to shoehorn in a narrative can actually detract from the learning experience, since it’s unlikely to be 100% relevant to them.
In fact, many learning games will feature mechanics which could transfer well to your audience. For instance, you could deliver health and safety training using a game in which the player avoids workplace hazards, or you could instead use one which has them avoiding hazards in a jungle. The mechanics are still relevant to the content, but the latter game is likely to be far more engaging to your learners!
5 game mechanics which relate to your content
Let’s take a look at a few different mechanics found within learning games. At first glance, they may seem as though they’re just there for a bit of fun, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see how they can be highly relevant for particular types of content.
Leaderboards add a little bit of competition into your game, showing your learners where they stack up against their peers. This works particularly well with sales content, since salespeople are used to working in competitive environments.
Perhaps you want to dig a little deeper into sales and train your people on how to effectively handle objections. A game in which you have to overcome various obstacles will be the perfect vehicle for this content!
Many learning games will encourage the learner to explore and find their own way to the end. These can be great for optional content, which your learners have to complete on their own initiative. Their discoveries within the game will align with how they’ve chosen to discover something new.
As your learner progresses through the game, they might find themselves coming face-to-face with a series of decisions, which will determine how the rest of the content plays out. This can be great for teaching speaking and presentation skills, as it can help to simulate a discussion playing out.
A classic gaming trope involves the player climbing to the top of a mountain or some other similar structure. While not every job involves scaling Everest on a day-to-day basis, these sorts of games can be applied to pretty much every training module, since climbing higher coincides with the learner’s progress through the course.
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