The world of training is changing, with more digital offerings as well as more platforms using new methods to teach. One such new method is using the concept of serious games as a teaching tool. Serious games, such as 3D simulation training programs, have already been used to train healthcare workers and pilots, but they’re also making their way into the field of manufacturing. 

What is a Serious Game?

Broadly defined, a serious game is designed to have a purpose beyond entertainment. Serious games are often used as teaching tools and can be tied in with the principle of gamification, which are ways to encourage a user to interact more with some entity, whether that be a brand, website or training program.For training purposes, an effective gamified training platform might utilize the motivational rewards and competitive elements built into video games to make the lessons more engaging. 

Engagement is a key element. When a training software is more engaging, the trainee is more likely to retain the knowledge learned during the program. SAP found that when they used gamification in their recruitment plan, the gamified recruits had a higher level of awareness of the company’s values and products compared to non-gamified recruits. Likewise, Dopamine Inc. noted that gamification can increase an employee’s ability to learn a new skill by up to 40 percent.

What Makes a Good Serious Game?

A good serious game is addictive, like traditional for-entertainment games. It needs to be engaging with a varying degree of difficulty. It needs to be adaptable to different skill levels. It needs to be challenging while also informative and educational. More importantly, it needs to reinforce what it is teaching through constant feedback. 

A 3D simulation training software, such as the Troubleshooting Industrial Sensors (TIS) program, offers a navigatiable world where trainees can explore their surroundings. A well-designed game captures the attention. For example, in the TIS program, trainees navigate through a greenhouse setting. The 3D elements, along with the sounds and interactive components, make it feel more realistic. It is an immersive digital world that holds the user’s attention.

The Case for Serious Games

The manufacturing workforce is changing. Deloitte reported that there could be up to 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing positions between 2018 and 2028. There is an increasing skills gap between the veteran workers who are set to retire and the up-and-coming millennial (born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1996) workforce. Currently, millennials make up 35% of the US labor force, and that number is steadily growing. These new workers are technologically advanced and require different methods of training and engagement than their older cohorts. 

By the time an American reaches 21 years of age, they have played between 6,000 to 9,000 hours of video games. Around 20 percent of millennials play an average of five hours of video games per week. 

Serious games offer a way to connect and train with these technologically savvy individuals. Not only that, simulation training in the form of a serious game has more advantages over traditional classroom learning. A good simulation training software allows for trainee participation in a proactive setting. Trainees learn about a multitude of scenarios before they occur. They can make mistakes in a safe environment and get immediate feedback on areas of improvement. 

Using simulation training provides hands-on experiences in a fun and engaging manner. Classroom learning doesn’t engage hands-on learners. It doesn’t provide immediate feedback and overall lacks trainee participation. When it comes down to it, sitting in a classroom isn’t nearly as interesting as playing a video game.   

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