Game-based training is aimed at engaging learners. It’s important to note that game-based training and gamification are not the same. The 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development states that 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from interaction with others and 10% from formal education events. In other words, 70% is experiential, 20% is social and 10% is formal. Based on this model experiential learning is the most beneficial method of teaching. Games present a way for learners to learn by doing and can mimic experiential learning.

Game-based training has been going on for years in the airline industry and the military, but it’s recently been expanding into areas like restaurants.

At Checkers, each sandwich maker has to learn how to craft 25 entrees on their menu. Employees use digital flashcards to learn the menu items, tour the sandwich station and practice making all the items on the menu. In the end, employees play the sandwich-making game where they race to accurately fulfill all the orders they receive.

While you may not need to teach your employees how to make sandwiches, every organization needs to train its workers. So how can game-based training benefit your organization?


Greater Retention Rates

The study, “A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Instructional Effectiveness of Computer-Based Simulation Games” found that simulation game-based training results in 20% higher self-efficiency, 9% greater retention, 11% greater declarative knowledge, and 14% greater procedural knowledge than instructional training methods.

When Canon Inc. used a simulation game to teach machine repairs, they found employees who played the game obtained training assessment scores 5% to 8% higher than those who trained with traditional methods. At KPMG, three months after their game launch, they recorded a 21% increase in product knowledge.

By implementing game-based training, The University of Colorado saw a 9% increase in retention, 14% increase in skills-based knowledge, and 11% increase in factual knowledge.

Games are effective in increasing retention rates because they require active learning. Advancing in a game requires more concentration than simply reading a manual or handbook. Games also involve splitting content into chunks, making information easier to retain and recall.


It Fosters Engagement

46% of companies believe a major barrier to effective compliance training is the learner’s perception that the content is dull, and the delivery lacks engagement.

Cold Stone Creamery witnessed impressive results when they developed a simulation game to teach customer service and portion control in a virtual Cold Stone store. The first week the simulation game was available more than 8,000 employees—representing 30% of the workforce—voluntarily downloaded the simulation game.

Training has a bad reputation as a boring activity you have to get through. Turning a traditional training course into a game is a great way to boost engagement. People like games because they present a challenge that the player must overcome. With game-based training, the employee is the player. And they’re motivated not just to complete the course but to win the game.

This is a win-win situation because the better they do at the game, the more they learn, and the more they learn, the better their performance will be. The key to engagement is making the game challenging enough that players don’t get bored but not so hard that they don’t try and quit.


You Can Track Results Better

It’s important when using any training method to track the results of your users to gauge the effectiveness of your course. Game-based training allows you to track employees' progress as they play, see which areas are weak, and deduce patterns.


“Simply put, game-based training provides an opportunity to capture learning data at a much more granular level.” 


Game-based training provides much richer information on the process learners use to make their decisions. With game-based learning experiences, you can better gauge the skill level and knowledge of the player as they are confronted with making decisions in real-life situations. You gain knowledge about how they arrive at their answers and track their progress along the way.


It Can Be Cost-Effective

The initial cost to implement a game-based training program may be high but after the initial investment, the benefits begin to outweigh the cost.


“According to a 2011 study by Tracy Sitzmann, games are the best way to learn compared to traditional learning. They increase learner confidence by 20%, improve knowledge by 11% and enhance knowledge retention by almost 90%.”Training Industry


Game-based training is especially important in situations where a lack of employee training and awareness can be costly. For example, creating a game simulation that mimics a cyberattack will teach IT how to deal with that situation and prevent data from being compromised. In doing so, you help players deal with IT issues and gain insight into where their knowledge may be lacking.

It’s important to keep in mind that game-based training may not always be the most effective training method for the task at hand. It depends on the overall goal and purpose of the learning experience you are building. For example, game-based training may not be effective with heavy, complex information that can’t be easily broken down. Like all other approaches to learning design and development, game-based training represents a proven and effective approach. But it should be part of a larger blended approach to accomplishing your organizational goals.

Does your organization use game-based training or have plans to in the future? 

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