Gameification: How ‘Kids’ Games Transform Business

Interactivity – For centuries, education and training have been, for the most part, passive experiences. Someone stands in front of a group and talks. The people being educated or trained sit and listen, taking a few notes here and there. If there is a lab, they will have some hands-on application, but application labs are not the norm in everyday education and training.

As technology evolved, the trainer or teacher showed a movie or two to keep people involved, but in the end, the people learning just sat and watched. Regardless of someone’s inherent learning style, learning is much more effective when you’re interacting with the material, not passively sitting there.

When you learn by gaming, you’re interacting with the information and concepts. You’re moving things around, you’re manipulating items, and you’re actually doing things. It’s no longer passive. Now you are much more engaged and immersed.

Immersion – We’ve seen 3D TVs where you have to wear special glasses to make the images pop out at you, but that’s because TVs have a lot of viewers sitting in a room spread out. When you’re playing a game on a small screen like a tablet or a smart phone, the viewing angle is such that you can have images appear 3D very easily without special glasses.

In the recent past and through to the present, video games use interspatial 3D, where you go into worlds. So instead of images popping out at you, you go inside to them. That’s how games on the Xbox 360 and others have been working for years, by using a regular television set or flat panel display. This sort of technology gives an immersed effect, which engages people more.

To apply this to business, if you’re training salespeople on a particular manufacturing tool they need to sell, why not have them see the tool in 3D and actually get to virtually manipulate the tool rather than have them read spec sheets about it? The former will give them more insight to the tool, which will make selling it easier.

Competition – Humans are naturally competitive beings. We want to sell more, be more productive, innovate faster, and be smarter than the next person. When you’re sitting in class learning, there’s little competitive value. You’re all there for the entire timeframe whether you’ve learned the materials in one hour or three. No one advances until the class is over.

However, when you’re competing, as in a game, there’s an adrenaline rush that keeps you engaged and focused on the task at hand. In an effort to win, people master concepts faster so they can be first, not last.

Self-diagnostic – In the world of gaming, as you accomplish new feats and as your character gets better, the game gives you greater challenges. When you power down, the game remembers where you left off. When you return to the game, you still have your capabilities and all the things your character has previously learned. You don’t have to start over from ground zero.

In the case of business training, if you learn something, there’s no need for a trainer to re-teach it to you. But how many times have you sat through a training session where you already learned a majority of the concepts yet you stayed so you could gain knowledge on a few key items? How much time did you waste?

A better idea is for business training to have a self-diagnostic component. The interactive, competitive, and immersed module can know your skill or knowledge level and progress accordingly. It can know where you left off and give you next steps from that point when you log back in. This is the best way to allow for individual training and learning.

Focus – When you’re playing a game, you’re forced to focus. You have to do A in order for B to occur. If you don’t do A, then you won’t get far in the game. Focus is the result of interactivity, competition, immersion, and self-diagnosis. When you can focus, you can learn virtually anything fast.

Accelerate learning

In the past, training and education were both a classroom experience, which meant they were an HR function. But now, with just-in-time training and tablets and smart phones with high definition video, training and education also involves IT. Rather than fight and resist this convergence of departments, strategic CIOs will embrace it and lead their company into the gameification era.

The fact is that with more and more to learn, it will be increasingly important to gameify business to create better results faster. Those companies that adopt early will be the long-term winners. So here’s your homework assignment: Get together with a kid and play one of their games. While you’re playing, think video games for business. Think of the five core elements and how you could reinvent learning with tools like these. Since businesses spend large sums of money on training and education, any tool that can accelerate or enhance learning will save both time and dollars.

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO ofBurrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including the national bestseller “Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible” as well as the highly acclaimed Technotrends. Be sure to check out Volume 2 of Daniel’s” Know What’s Next” magazine, an annual publication on strategies for transforming your business and future.