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Corporate Training Games When Your Organization Isn’t Playful

Hey! I’m glad you found me. Presumably, you’re that one visionary in your company who understands the many benefits of game-based training in corporate organizations, but you work somewhere that just isn’t playful. Before I offer you my condolences, presumably you are there because there are some aspects you really like…if it just weren’t for this one little thing! I promise I can be your friend who gets it – that games offer the best kind of learning: hands-on, experiential, and engaging.

Now that we’re friends, I’d love to help you to come up with different ways you might want to approach your organization. My suggestion is that we look at what you are up against so we can address it head-on. You ready?

The “We’re Very Serious” Organization

The “We’re Very Serious” Organization

(Image source: Giphy)

If you work for this type of organization, most likely your business is focused on something very serious – like people’s health or large sums of money. It may be that your customers expect you to be serious so that’s what your culture has become. The very thought of your organization engaging in play seems, well, ridiculous. My first suggestion if you work for this type of organization is to stop using the words “play” and “game”. Just don’t use them. Some of my favorite substitutes are:

  • Digital experiential training (serious!)
  • Business or technical simulation training (very serious!)
  • Simulated technical training and assessment (very, very serious!)

Know that we can adjust the visual style of the game to match the preferences of your organization. Our art team is very talented and they can create a style that isn’t cartoony at all. You can then show them, for example, some of the work we did for the US Office of Naval Research to teach sonar technology to underwater submarine operators.

Wavequest (ARiA) screenshot

🎮: Wavequest (ARiA)

Now, I can’t do anything about the word “games” being right there in our company name if you decide to work with us, but hopefully, they’ll be sufficiently bought in at that point so that it won’t matter. 

The “We’re Very Busy” Organization

The “We’re Very Busy” Organization

(Image source: Giphy)

HOW DO YOU EVEN HAVE TIME TO READ THIS POST!? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE VERY BUSY! Phew. (Know that I typed that as fast as I could for extra effect). 

This organization may understand the benefits of game-based training. But while it may be beneficial to other organizations, your organization just doesn’t have the time. They may believe that games take too much time: first, you have to get everyone together, then you have to take the time to learn and understand pages and pages of rules, and you have to take the time to play a game. Monopoly, I love you, but you really did ruin games for some people.

(Image source: Giphy)

Rest assured, digital games are different. First of all, you also don’t have to be in the same place – they’re virtual! So whether we work with you to create a solo or multiplayer game, your organization will be able to access it anytime, anywhere. Secondly, a well-designed game starts where the learner is, and slowly scaffolds the player through the experience with plenty of opportunities to experiment. The game encourages the player to keep going, by providing just enough challenge to keep the player engaged while celebrating every success along the way. You don’t first have to learn the rules to play it. You start playing it and the game teaches you how to play. 

Lastly, just like traditional e-Learning content, games can be designed as a deeper experience that takes hours or can be designed as micro-games that offer regular, short, meaningful play experiences that get played for 10-15 minutes every day over a period of time. A game we built like this was Engage with Older Adults for the Mental Health Association of Maryland which teaches home health care workers how to best serve older adults in their homes:

Engage With Older Adults (Mental Health Association of Maryland) screenshot

🎮: Engage With Older Adults (Mental Health Association of Maryland)

The “We’re Afraid, But We Refuse to Admit It” Organization

(Image source: Giphy)

If you really can’t figure out why your organization just won’t get on board with corporate training games, I’d recommend poking around to see if there are any fears at play. The two big fears that I see regularly are “I’m not good at technology things” or “I tried to play a video game with my kids once and I was really bad at it.” It’s ok, it’s ok. I know. We know. And we can take all of these things into consideration when we design a game for your organization. 

First, we’ll suggest we embrace the devices your organization is most familiar with – most often, this is a keyboard and mouse, although it may be a smartphone or tablet. Secondly, our visual interaction designers are pros at designing easy, intuitive experiences that build on your learner’s digital literacy levels. Rest assured that no game we create for you will involve weird, impossible key combinations that require the dexterity of an 8-year old. 

Furthermore, unless you are specifically training people to do something quickly, we don’t make games that are time-limited or require you to move very fast. So don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in this regard. For example, in Contents Under Pressure, a chemical safety game we created for our friends at Rowan University, players are asked to manage a chemical plant to ensure that it is safe. There are no chemical tanks about to blow up or any type of countdowns to doom. Just a measured, thoughtful play experience where players make everyday decisions to contribute to the plant’s safety.

Contents Under Pressure (Rowan University) screenshot

🎮: Contents Under Pressure (Rowan University)

I hope this was helpful, new friend, and that I’ve armed you with some good ideas to take back to your organization. If you want to chat about some specific strategies for your organization, drop me a line!

I had a great time speaking about this very topic not too long ago for the Training, Learning, and Development Community (TLDC). Watch it here!

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