Gamified simulations: The future of employee training or just the next fad?

February 18, 2022
Gamified simulations: The future of employee training or just the next fad?

Are Gamified Simulations Effective in Employee Training?

Gamified simulations are becoming increasingly popular in the corporate world. Most companies are now adapting this trend in their corporate training. It offers a learning solution that is a lot more fun in terms of engagement and is a great way to teach employees using real-life situations when compared to redundant traditional learning methods.

But there are too many doubts emerging in regards to this field. Can it enhance employee training, or is it just another fad? Here's everything you need to know about this trend in employee training.

Research supports the effectiveness of gamification in training. But does gamified training actually enhance the learning experience? 

Here are five factors backed by brain science you need to know to understand the role of gamification in training. 

1. Promotes Proactive Behaviors

Simulations are effective in training because they use the same neurological processes that we learn in real life. The brain interprets simulation as it would a real-life situation.

For example, Imagine you're training new employees to operate machinery that's critical to your business. Learning through gamification can help them become comfortable with the machinery and its functions in a safe environment before operating it in real life. Studies show that the brain makes strong connections between what it is doing and learning. 

When people have fun while they learn, they remember more of what they learned in the simulation. This means that simulations increase engagement and participation, which leads to greater learning.

2. Helps users to retain the learnings

Neuroscience shows that learning through gamification is effective at training through operant conditioning. This is the same process of learning that happens when you teach your dog a trick or learn to ride a bike.

Every time you play a video game, it also happens: For example, the user starts playing (or doing) something new, they get a positive reward (a high score or beating an opponent) if they do something right. But if they do something wrong, they get a negative punishment (Like getting respawned). The positive reinforcement encourages the user to repeat the desired behavior and try new things. Over time, the user learns how to complete their task or goal. 

This way, learners will be motivated to repeat desired behaviors. Finally, learning is better reinforced and retained through these recurring behaviors in the long run. 

3. Taps into Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivations 

Gamification in training provides a conducive learning environment by tapping into learners' intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Using game mechanics within a training environment, we can better capture our learners' attention and focus. 

Training that uses game mechanics can increase engagement and participation by tapping into the deep motivations of learners. Rewarding achievements and ranking learners on leaderboards can keep them involved with the training, even when it gets challenging. It also taps into their need for meaning in their work and a sense of mastery in achieving their goals.

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4. Enables Real-Time & Flexible Assessments 

Game mechanics can provide learners with constant performance feedback, such as levels, scoreboards, and leaderboards. Similarly, assessments can also be designed to reflect learner needs at any given time. For example, you could create small games but consistently reinforce the material being taught using points, badges, and rewards.

Likewise, training administrators and leaders can easily get insights about each employee's progress from within the gamified environment. The simulated aspects of the program may keep learners motivated through constant engagement. And you can easily see how far individual trainees have progressed and tailored the environment to their specific needs.

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5. Promotes Social Learning

A study published by IBM showed that 90 percent of everything we learn at work takes place outside of our formal training experiences. This is why combining gamification and social learning creates a great environment for informal learning. But this should come as no surprise as many of today's most popular games incorporate multiple social elements. Common social features include activity feeds, in-game chats and push notifications.  

Simulations encourage informal learning by leveraging the social nature of play. Learning through games and social interactions can definitely help employees in improving their overall performance.

Common mistakes organizations make when choosing gamified simulations

Gamification shouldn't be seen as a magic elixir. It definitely won't solve all inefficiencies linked to your training. They have certain risks linked to their poorly-deployed use.

While it may help you achieve your training goals, there are various risks related to the gamification of learning. For example, overuse of game mechanics may lead to a misalignment between learners' motivation and the real purpose of your training.

Read ahead to avoid these common mistakes organizations make when choosing simulations for corporate training.

1. Misaligned Objectives

If your game mechanics aren't linked to your company's objectives, they will not benefit your business. In fact, according to Gartner, 80% of businesses that don't link their game mechanics to their business goals will fail. As such, a gamified training approach is only effective if you align it with your organization's specific training goals.

2. Neglecting Learner's Journey 

The gamification of a learning environment depends on how well it can cater to your learner's journey. As a gamification strategy designer, you should be aware of your learner's goals, where they are in their development process, and what they hope to achieve by training.

Determining the answers to these questions allows leaders to make more informed decisions when planning their gamification strategy.

3. Complicated Mechanics or Challenges

Rewarding a learner for success encourages their desire for achievement and growth. However, if the complexity is too high, learners may become frustrated and give up on the training session.

We recommend that you design challenges that encourage mastery and a sense of satisfaction for your learners.

To sum up

Gamified simulations can be a valuable tool in your employee training arsenal. Implementing the right one will help you solve a challenge and even find cost efficiencies. It will play an increasingly important role in the future of corporate learning.

And it's success comes down to proper strategy, planning and implementation. Consider employee learning needs and problems you are trying to solve, and then brainstorm solutions that work for your specific situation. Once you have a solid understanding of the goals you are trying to accomplish, finding a gamified solution should be easier. 

We hope that this article has provided you with plenty of new insights into the role of gamification in corporate training. Now you can see how it can be applied in your organization and take things further. 

If you are looking for immersive and cost-effective gamified simulations for your corporate training programs, contact us and stay assured about training employees to perform at the top of their game!

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