What are Training Games, and How Can They Help Your Business?

Training games are a type of software that can be used to train in almost anything—from human resources onboarding materials to instructions on how to complete a process—in a way that feels like a game. Many of us may have encountered something similar to these as learning games in elementary school, such as the ones that taught multiplication and division, reading skills, and so on, or brain training games, such as those available through the Microsoft Store. Training games are a bit different than learning games, although they share a similar purpose: to teach using an interactive and fun tool that can often be customized to your particular project or goals. If you’ve ever wondered how these games work and whether they could help with your business’ needs, here is an introduction to some of the more common types of games and how they’re used:

1. Getting to know your company

Training games can be used to introduce your company’s background, brand, and policies. For example, let’s say you introduced a new logo and visual identity for your company, and you want to help employees use your company’s new brand identity correctly. A training game could be set up to have employees learn to identify the new features of your brand, such as by clicking on the correct logo and gaining points for correct answers. Also, if you’ve ever been hired by a large company or organization and had to spend an afternoon reading through a large HR onboarding manual, then you know how tiresome it can be to learn about a company’s policies by sitting down with a manual for a few hours. Gamification is an idea that connects with people’s desire for status and achievement in order to teach or motivate, which is similar to how video games have traditionally been used for entertainment (i.e. you would succeed by gaining points, completing levels, collecting rewards, and so forth). It only makes sense that if games work so well to entertain, they can also work well to train.

2. Team building

Whether it is a lunch-and-learn activity or an after-hours team-building exercise, training games can also be used to connect your employees and build morale. I remember playing a game called Neverwinter Nights while I was a student. It had a WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) component that allowed students to construct an environment, characters, rules/restrictions, and so forth, and then everyone in the class was able to play the game online that each student created. Our class used the software to learn how to write narrative for video games, but it would certainly be possible to use this type of software to have employees work together as a team, introduce themselves to each other, and so forth.

3. Personal and employee development

If you’ve ever tried language-learning software such as Rosetta Stone, you’ve already experienced a training game similar to others that can be used for personal and employee development. Some of the Rosetta Stone techniques have learners click on the correct image after hearing a word or phrase (e.g. if you were learning French, you would click on an image of a dog after hearing the word chien), and then you would gain a certain number of points in order to move on to the next level. This training technique can be much more effective than having learners read material or sit through a presentation or class. In addition to language-learning software, games can be applied to personal or employee development to learn leadership techniques, time management, group facilitation, communication skills, and any number of skills that might have been taught traditionally in a classroom setting or by reading about a topic.

4. Specialized skills and technical training

Games can also be used to train in specific skills related to a particular company or occupation, such as how to sell a company’s products over the phone. Health and safety materials also work well as games (e.g. WHMIS training). Some medical schools have even found that playing video games in general (i.e. not just those that train or teach) can help surgical residents with their laparoscopic skills. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using games to teach or develop specific skills, and although video games have often been thought of as having negative effects such as encouraging time wasting, we are seeing them used more and more for positive outcomes such as those mentioned above.