The word “experience” plays a fundamental role in a training cycle.
Both in the Kolb cycle and in the Dale’s cone of knowledge, living the learning process is, in some cases, more valuable than other approaches.
Ever since they became consolidated in society, video games have played an important role in terms of providing interactive experiences. Most of the time, they were and are still used for entertainment.
To sum up the other applications, video games are currently used to reach the following kinds of different objectives:
- Educational/training: using game design techniques, the aim of the game is to teach subjects, notions or positive behaviour (“Dumb ways to die”)
- Promotional: a product or place is advertised using characters that are linked to the brand or the product itself. From the “Cool Spot” game, the official mascot of the 7Up drink in the Unites States, to the Italian product “The Town of Light” developed by LKA and the series “Assassin’s Creed” developed by the multinational Ubisoft. The latter two products publicized the places in which they were set and, in some cases, caused an increase in tourism (Volterra and, for the episodes of Assassin’s Creed set in Italy, Tuscany, Romagna and Venice)
- Informative: the development of news-related video games enables you to recount and explain things that happen in the world and associated problems interactively, so as to offer a different interpretation to understand the subject. This is what led to “Newsgaming”. Examples include Molleindustria “Phone Story” on the production of smartphones and Sunnyside Games “The Firm” on the work of Stock Exchange traders.
In this article, we will discuss the educational/training part.
According to the latest estimate made by the AESVI (Association of Italian Video game Developer Publishers) in 2016, in Italy, there are 29.3 million video game players, the most represented age group of which being 35 to 44 years, followed by people aged between 45 and 54 years and, finally, between 25 and 34 years. They are all people of a working age.
The crucial aspect of video games is the result obtained from the video game experience: the “Flow” or “optimum experience”.
We use this “image” to understand it better: we read an interesting book, we watch a good film; we get deeply involved and remember passages and scenes effortlessly, almost as though they were stamped on our memory. We feel as though just half an hour or an hour has passed but, in the end, we realize that three hours have passed.
The “flow” is an emotional state between anxiety and boredom that is created when a person is offered a difficult experience that is, however, suited to the knowledge that he has acquired up to that point.
It is during this “optimum experience” (which is received during the video game) that the mind and body are extremely receptive and it is at this point that the training process is to be introduced.
A concrete example can be taken from the military sector.
In 1980, the U.S. army decided to use a video game to train its soldiers drive a particular model of tank. They opted for “Battle Zone”, a popular game by Atari, whom the US Army asked to produce a special edition of the product and this is how the “Bradley Trainer” simulator was developed.
In parallel for the end user, but initially with less impact, video games were used as a quick and simple tool for acquiring basic school knowledge.
From the training point of view, a particularly important role is played on the Apple 2 computer by the video game “Oregon Trail”, which was used with great success in the eighties in U.S. primary schools to teach history and American life in the 19th century.
As years have gone by, the Game Design techniques have been refined and the technology improved as has the efficacy of these experiences. Psychologists and other figures that enrich the set of professions contributing to the production of a video game are involved. Today, video games are used in the fields described previously and by multinationals, such as Unilever, in their recruitment processes.
The following two processes are offered to companies that want to use video games:
- “Ad hoc” product development: the company contacts a software house, presents the training objectives to be reached and the software house designs the video game.
- Use of existing products: the company contacts a consultant or company to work alongside it in these projects. The objective is presented, the commercial video game closest to the objective to be reached is chosen and the tools that complete the game experience from the training point of view are designed (tools that analyse the experiences and the “games” played or tools that increase the interaction between the participants). In this way, the solution is ready for use in the company’s training environment.
In both cases, the game experience part must be supported by a “return” time mediated by the trainer, so that the activity is not interpreted simply as a game. If this part is not added, there is a risk that the students will only remember the exciting or entertaining part of the experience. This would be a failure in that the student is not made to interpret the experience differently. Depending on their age and experience of life, everyone has a different way of viewing reality, which must be guided by the trainer so that the person is trained to decipher what the experience has actually represented for them from the training point of view and thus to reach the objective.
Since the advent of Virtual Reality to the consumer world in the 1st quarter of 2016 with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR, the game and educational experiences have gained a new involvement model and have provided another blank new sheet on which game designers will be called to express their creativity in order to design effective training tailored to the person for whom it is designed.
Dumb ways to die – Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJNR2EpS0jw
Phone Story: http://www.phonestory.org/
Article on the Flow:
Oregon Trail: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Oregon_Trail_The_1990
“The Bradley Trainer” – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOhpjf9QUTE
Univeler and recruiting with video games: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/21/unilever-mobile-gaming-recruit-staff