For the longest time, video games were perceived solely as a leisure activity, mostly popular among kids and teenagers. To this day, they remain a favorite form of escapism, providing a much-needed distraction from daily stressors and helping people relax and forget about their worries as they immerse themselves in alternate virtual realities.
Despite or perhaps precisely because of their growing popularity, video games have also received a lot of backlash, with the public conversation revolving around their potential negative effects such as social isolation, procrastination, aggressive behavior, and violence, although studies in this respect were poorly conducted and largely inconclusive.
However, it’s rather unfair to subscribe to the old prejudice of gaming being a mere pastime that affects the impressionable minds of children, considering this portrayal is highly inaccurate. Apart from the fact that there is no solid evidence that video games lead to real-life violence, there has been tremendous evolution in gaming spaces and game store catalogs over the years which extended the scope and use cases of video games well beyond the entertainment landscape.
No longer just a way to have fun or kill time, video games these days boast a variety of practical applications, and serving as a training tool is one of them.
The benefits of using video games for employee training
Training is crucial for maintaining a safe and hazard-free workspace and creating an environment where employees can feel comfortable and focus on their tasks. Unfortunately, many companies don’t pay due attention to building an effective employee training program or regard it as just another task that needs to be checked off the list.
The negative consequences of a poor training process range from low employee satisfaction and performance to increased risk of workplace accidents, leading to serious or even fatal injuries, damaged equipment, legal ramifications, and so on. In fact, along with overexertion, tiredness, distractions, and messy work environments, inadequate or insufficient training is cited as one of the main causes of workplace accidents. Dealing with personal injury claims and other issues related to improper training is not a pleasant experience for either party.
That’s why, in recent years, an increasing number of companies in different industries have started incorporating video games in their training programs, alongside more conventional tools and practices. And the benefits they’ve been enjoying are plenty.
Risk reduction and mitigation
One of the main purposes of a training program is to help workers identify and address workplace hazards effectively and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Using video games can facilitate safety training by giving employees the possibility to learn about the risks and hazards they may be faced with in their workplace and how they should react in these circumstances from a safe distance. Trainees can step into the virtual reality of the game where they can practice tasks and experience challenges without being exposed to any real danger.
For a lot of employees, new and old, training can be a rather tedious process. No one really enjoys sitting and listening for hours to some theoretical concepts being presented to them, so it’s no wonder many training courses fail to capture employees’ attention.
Playing video games is the exact opposite. Even the dullest topics can become interesting if they are delivered in an engaging manner and that’s exactly what gaming does. Video games can motivate employees, encourage them to take risks, and get actively involved in the training process.
Improved learning retention
Training often requires employees to assimilate considerable amounts of information related to their work tasks and responsibilities, which can be difficult for newcomers. Game-based learning makes it easier for trainees to absorb new information, being a medium that involves active participation. The elements and features included in video games like audio-visual stimuli, characters, and narratives also facilitate retention.
A more immersive experience
Conventional training programs employ a combination of theoretical, visual, and auditory learning tools and techniques to convey information, but they’re mostly static and don’t encourage trainee participation.
Video-based training, on the other hand, is much more immersive and interactive, being centered on the learner. Employees are required to get into action and that makes the whole process a lot more effective.
Better training ROI
From a business perspective, training has to be not only efficient but also cost-effective. Since game-based learning ensures higher engagement, reduced risks, and better learning retention, one can expect these benefits to lead to higher performance and profits.
Industries employing video games in the training process
While using gaming as a training tool is still a novel practice, there are many industries and businesses that can benefit greatly from this innovative approach.
The hospitality sector has been quick to adopt gamification in order to improve customer service. Hotel chains and other businesses working in the field often use video games to create realistic scenarios that enable staff members to practice and enhance their skills.
Video games and virtual simulators have also made their way in many areas of activity where manual handling is required. For example, video simulation offers a great alternative for firefighters to train without the risk of injury or exposure to real fire. Similarly, warehouse workers can learn how to handle equipment by playing video games that recreate real-life environments and situations.
In the healthcare field, surgeons and nurses can take advantage of game-based learning to train and reduce the risk of human error, which is crucial when dealing with patient care, and the examples could go on.
There’s no doubt that video games have come a long way in recent years, both in terms of popularity and applications. Their inclusion in the training process represents a big step forward for the gaming industry and the companies that use video-based learning to train their staff.
Featured image provided by Myron Standret; Vecteezy; Thanks!