Over the past two decades video and computer games have become the most dominant form of entertainment for American youth. It didn’t take companies like Leap Frog long to figure out that educational games would be the wave of the future for kids to learn fundamentals, with that edutainment was born. Now games are used as an educational tool for kids and adults alike. Best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame uses board games, computer games and is even working on a multi-player web-based game to teach financial education. What then is the next frontier for the video game? Believe it or not Corporate America is jumping on board.
The workforce is currently being flooded with 20-somethings who grew up on computer games and have continued playing them well into adulthood. This affinity for interactivity, even if it is with a computer, has made traditional methods of corporate training like seminars and manuals obsolete. This group of young adults, which has been crowned generation Y, represents the largest increase to the American workforce since the baby-boomers, and they definitely play by different rules. While corporations still have standards to uphold when it comes to company policy, for many the delivery method is changing. Traditional e-learning has become widely accepted in the corporate environment and has come a long way to bridge the generation gap but some of the heavy hitters, like Hilton, Johnson & Johnson and Alcoa, are taking things a step further by implementing full blown computer games into their corporate training curriculum.
Simulations have long been recognized as the most effective way to teach someone to do something, whether it is a real life or virtual simulation. Computer games allow companies to create a virtual simulation of any aspect of their organization and leverage it into a training environment. The benefits to the company and especially the young employees are undeniable. The Gen Y workforce by in large will be familiar with the gaming format, they will be engaged which will ultimately be a much higher transfer of knowledge to on the job skills. Games also give immediate feedback, another thing Gen Y tends to feed off. These things may go a long way in creating loyalty in a group that is not known for that attribute.
While the initial expense may be high for the creation of a corporate game it is surely on par with the cost of traditional methods which require hiring corporate trainers, having employees travel to training centers and printing training materials. The difference is corporate game creation is a one-time expense with a measurable return on investment.