Humans have always loved playing games. With the fast-pace of technology, we can now play games on any device (mobile, tablet and web) and in any environment (virtual or physical). But games are not only for fun. They can also be used for workplace training, education and skill development. In fact, major global companies from Deloitte to McDonalds are embracing the potential of corporate serious gaming.

This article explores the huge benefits to using serious games in corporate workplaces. It covers:

  • Top 3 trends in workplace training games
  • 6 benefits to corporate serious gaming
  • Case studies of serious games in action

By the end, you should recognise not only the potential for serious games in corporate settings but also, be full of ideas for your own workplace training games. 

Top Serious Games Trends in the Workplace

From the golden era of arcades to popular consoles, mobile gaming and the rise of extended reality technology (XR) – games have evolved quickly . Both commercial games and serious games have followed similar trajectories. This is largely because serious games are built the same as entertainment games – they simply offer more than entertainment to the player. Here are three recent trends emerging in corporate serious gaming.

Trend 1: Social Experiences

Web games, mobile apps and the latest desktop releases are made better when people can share their game experiences. Social media and forums are an ideal platform for building these communities. Including social experiences for your corporate serious games creates greater brand awareness and can make companies appear more desirable to prospective employees. It’s not just about a hashtag however, it’s about creating an experience through your workplace training games that is worthy of being shared.

Both Google and Nokia have used social experiences to enhance their corporate training programs. Nokia used a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) to train top management. Rather than focusing on group training in a traditional seminar, Nokia increased the fun and social aspects with a team video game. For Google, social media was key to their #iamremarkable workshops. While the training itself is not a game, the same principles can be used for corporate training games to create social media buzz.

Trend 2: Extended Reality Games

Extended reality (XR) refers to any combined real and virtual environments. It includes augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Research from Stanford University and Technical University Denmark found that virtual teaching methods could increase learning effectiveness by up to 76%. Companies at the forefront of this technology are using it as a workplace training tool. Examples in the US include: surgeon training at the University School of Medicine Atlanta and retail training in Walmart. 

Check out our infographic: The Future of Workplace AR & VR Training

Trend 3: Games for Good

Gaming is not only useful for teaching practical skills, it can also improve emotional intelligence and empathy. Serious games like Chaos Theory’s In Their Shoes and The Great Fire offer a window into other lived experiences and test decision-making in low-risk environments. Similar styles of games can be used by corporate workplaces for training in communication and empathy.

6 Benefits to Corporate Serious Games

Successful corporate companies know not to follow trends blindly. They search for good reasons before adopting any new technology or altering their work practices. The good news is, there are plenty of great reasons to use serious games for corporate workplace training. Here are 6 benefits to serious games at work:

1. Practical Experience

Traditional onboarding and workplace training methods like manuals can share theory, but not practicalities. Corporate serious games combine theory and practical experience to train employees more effectively than traditional methods. A study by Traci Sitzmann from the University of Colorado Denver found that gamification increased skill-based knowledge by 14% and fact-based knowledge by 11%. While these statistics on their own may appear small, when multiplied across a large employee base – they add up to real change.

2. Low-Risk Environments

In a dangerous profession – like the police or pilots – serious gaming ensures training can occur in a safe environment. For a corporate workplace, serious games can help minimise business risks to productivity or profitability. Mistakes made in a virtual world are also less taxing on the employee, which allows for freer experimentation and faster learning.

Case Study: Games in Action for McDonalds

Working the till at McDonalds is a fast and relentless role. There is a wide menu and it’s highly unlikely that consecutive orders will be exactly the same. In partnership with Kineo, McDonalds produced a till training game which was rolled out across the UK. The game allowed for consistent repetition of tasks, provided a low-risk work environment with virtual customers/orders and increased practical experience of the tills. The results were striking:

  • 85% of crew members said the training helped them understand the new till system
  • Till service was 7.9 seconds faster on average
  • This increased speed helped increase profits by around £18,000 per restaurant, or £23.7 million across the UK

3. Performance Monitoring & Data Gathering

Most corporate companies use performance measurements, from KPIs to sales targets. While these measurements work well for company performance, they are less suitable for soft skills. Serious games can test soft skills such as risk-aversion or problem solving. 

Corporate serious games are also effective for data gathering. This data can help employers track training progress and identify employees’ strengths or weaknesses. It can assist with identifying which training opportunities to pursue next by outlining any company-wide weaknesses.

4. Cost-effective and Scalable

While building corporate serious games requires investment upfront, once created they are increasingly cost-effective. Workplace training games are a single asset that can be used as many times as required to train or assess employees. They can be used multiple times by the same employee at no extra cost and are easily scaled to meet increased employee demand. This means that budgeting can be done once with a small amount set aside for updates, scaling and maintenance. 

Case Study: Games in Action for Deloitte

Accounting firm Deloitte have used a game called Firefly Freedom to rethink the recruitment process. They developed the game because they felt the standard interview questions were not able to test a wide range of skills, such as risk-taking and creativity. With around 1,500 graduates hired in a typical year, the game offered Deloitte a cost-effective way to test soft skills en masse.

In a second example, Deloitte New Zealand partnered with Rapt Media to gamify their recruitment experience. They wanted an interactive alternative to standard recruitment videos. The gamified video achieved an average viewing time of 4 minutes and outperformed a similar recruitment video hosted on YouTube.

5. Repetition

People learn best through repeated experiences. But, most jobs are not truly repetitive. While employees might perform the same tasks day-to-day, the task setup is not always the same. There may also be long gaps between the first and second time a task is performed. This may limit learning retention. Rather than wait for tasks to become repetitive, corporate serious games can provide simple repetition. Players can repeat levels they struggle with in order to increase practice time.

6. Engagement and knowledge retention

Games are fun, even when they’re serious. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to corporate serious games is the potential for engagement. Employees are more focused in workplace training games and more likely to complete the process. The same Sitzmann study mentioned earlier also found that gamification increased knowledge retention levels by 9% when compared with non-interactive training methods.

Dive in with workplace training games by Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory are an Australian game developer, based in Sydney, with experience in web, app, AR and VR gaming. It brings me great joy to see our clients and their customers experience the magic of play through serious gaming. Ready to dive in with corporate serious games? Book a free 30-minute brainstorm with me where we’ll go over the benefits of workplace training games and how you can use them in your company.