Upping the Ante on Modern Training Styles

Upping the Ante on Modern Training Styles
January 18, 2024 Susan Diepen

Upping the Ante on Modern Training Styles and Demystifying Game-based Learning

Greg Hull

Greg Hull

MD Retail and Hospitality, Attensi


SCENARIO: You manage a collection of hotels or restaurants, and you happen upon your worst nightmare. Walking into the lobby you notice a line of people tapping their feet, fidgeting and tired, waiting for service. A member (or two) of your staff is anxiously trying to field a situation with an unhappy customer that is escalating by the minute. Your staff, whose behavior was at first avoidant, is now mirroring the customer and has turned to aggressive frustration. A chilling scene that affects not only the future return of the irritated guest, but also those in line, staff involved, and beyond.

Now take a breath. Lucky for you, the situation isn’t real. Even better, this scenario and similar models can be replicated and practiced without real-life consequences. Enter game-based simulation training.

person playing mobile training solution on handheld device

What is Game-based Simulation Training?

Game-based simulation training allows for an engaging and comprehensive learning experience. Incorporating the mechanics of gamification—things like points, leaderboards, and dynamic visuals—game-based simulation training specializes in the field of video game design for workplace training, creating not only engaging programs but also behavioral change. Studies have shown that behavioral change happens when content is engaging. Beyond looking cool or being fun to play, it builds personal motivation to complete and repeat. Training programs that nurture both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation foster a better path to learning. Static and traditional learning methods struggle to unlock the real impact of these core psychological principles, making game-based simulation training the most effective method of learning. It also creates a safe space to fail—crucial for situations which might happen rarely but carry devastating consequences for your business.

game mechanics and drivers

According to a Study by the National Library of Medicine:

“Game-based learning environments affect frontal brain activity. We identified increased brain activation in areas associated with emotion and reward processing while playing the game-based version, which might be driven by rewarding elements of the game-based version. Moreover, frontal areas associated with attention were also more activated in the game-based version of the task. Hence, we observed converging evidence on a user experience and neurofunctional level indicating that the game-based version was more rewarding as well as emotionally and attentionally engaging.”

Beyond providing a fail-safe environment, in-person learning programs require a large quantity of resources, staff, and work hours. One of the great benefits of game-based training is its diversity of applications. Training games can range from multi-device mini-games resembling games you would download from an app store, all the way to fully immersive simulation scenarios using VR headsets.

Successful brands have utilized game-based training solutions with a combination of bite-sized mini-games and realistic simulations using avatars as well as simulated processes and systems to best fit the nature of varied roles and responsibilities. For instance, front-end staff may benefit from a series of mini-games including task-based workflow to foster upselling skills while your leadership team may benefit from the more complex escalation scenarios built out with richly realized avatars and compelling, dialogue-driven scenarios.

It’s Important to Know the Difference:

Commonly interchanged with game-based training is gamification. Gamification tends to rely heavily upon aesthetic elements of engagement, such as badges and points, as well as creating a venue for leaderboards that provoke competition. While these benefits may inspire initial active engagement, they do not instill deeper behavioral change. Training programs should not be built on these mechanics alone. That initial spike in engagement that comes with scoring points or ‘hearts’ doesn’t inspire the deeper value of game-based simulations: deep immersion, true-to-life knowledge transfer, and sustainable, durable repetition. This is where strictly gamified models fall flat—it’s in repetition and mastery that we see actual learning and change. Gamification can be viewed as an entry point and complement to the deeper impact of scientifically founded game-based training solutions. It’s in the toolbox, but don’t be fooled. It’s not the thing itself. If you want to make a real impact on the employee behaviors that drive success within the brand, turn to game-based simulation solutions.

game-based vs gamification

The Bottom Line:

Companies are buying in. Exhibiting huge growth over the last decade, projections for the game-based learning industry are expected to surpass $50 billion by 2028 with the North American market accounting for the majority of adopters (Global Market Insights Inc). And game-based solutions don’t have to be “once and done”. This style of learning is a fully customizable experience that provides a stable yet nimble foundation for adding to and modifying current training modules. This agility is vital to an ever-pivoting industry where scalability is key to success.

Our heritage lies in gaming. We use the same, high fidelity, game mechanics that designers use for box office games that top the charts worldwide. And we’ve seen the results. A leading coffee brand approached us to create an engaging training program that could be utilized across a variety of roles. Since inception, we’ve seen a 75% reduction in training time in both front of house and management. That’s a huge efficiency in two areas, creating more concise and effective training program material and major savings.

When you choose game-based training, you’re choosing to close a learning gap and provide support for your employee’s present and future, giving them the space not only to try and fail safely, but learn and grow.  When your employees can grow, your company grows. That’s impact.