Blog: Let The Games Begin!
Next week, Unicorn with Growth Engineering in partnership with e.Learning Age, will welcome delegates from across the worlds of eLearning, HR and learning and development to London for 'E-Learning 20-20: Stay Ahead of the Game'. But why? Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips looks at the growing popularity of serious games in learning. Serious games and gamification are very much the hot topic in L&D at the moment and will be central to our E-Learning 20-20 workshops at the Oval next Wednesday and Thursday (26 & 27 November). Serious games and gamification are of course related, but aren't the same. To quote keynote speaker Craig Weiss: "In the e-learning world, gamification means leaderboard, points, badges and now, in my opinion, you must have a badge maker, built-in badge library, gaming templates and a reward store or something like that. "Gaming in the e-learning world means gaming elements, which is non existent at the present time in a LMS, as in creating a game based course with those gaming elements." We have been advocates of the use of serious games for over 25 years as part of our commitment to action learning. As far back as 1993 we produced a course for Boots, which took the form of a Cluedo-style murder mystery with colourful hand-drawn graphics and more professional look. See what you think...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdMuDoT7RMQ In 1998 'The Great Balloon Race' course we produced for BACS showed another step-change in graphics with sound and video. Both those courses show that gamification is nothing new. In fact we might dig out one or two more of our more amusing early efforts for the 'gaming' workshop on Thursday (27th). So why has gaming become such a hot topic in learning? I think the answer is obvious. The iPad and the smart phone have, in a remarkably short space of time, taken video games out of the bedrooms of teenage boys and into the pockets and bags of all of us. Billions of us, in fact, around the globe. Video games can be irresistible. Many of us, from our teens to an age where we really should know better, have succumbed to the temptation to just try one more level, blast one more screen of zombies or pigs, or find that last missing coin. I cannot claim to have seen many eLearning courses that command such devotion from their users. Of course, many video games are nowadays developed with budgets that we in eLearning can only dream of. But the underlying principles of engagement, immersion and design excellence could hardly be more relevant, and are remarkably simple to apply. There are a few very simple things to remember.
- Let the learner explore, discover, make choices and feel they have control.
- Encourage learners to dive into a scenario or case study before they have all the facts, then make the facts available in context.
- Try to find engaging graphical ways of measuring progress; games continually tell you how you are doing.
- Don’t be afraid to let your learners fail - users don’t mind 'losing' so long as they are encouraged, get positive feedback on their progress, and get challenged to try again. How many times have you done the same level on Candy Crush??
- Many of the best and most successful video games include the elements of humour and surprise. Even the mildest play on words can come as welcome light relief to the poor benighted compliance student.
- Use high quality graphics and sound. We are all now so used to high quality intuitive UX from our home and mobile technology that even with limited budgets, the quality of the graphic design is increasingly important to attracting and retaining the learner’s attention.
- Integrate simple social media tools, add league tables in the LMS, show the learner the last five answers to an open question, and so on.