Serious Games

All posts tagged Serious Games

Blogs are great if you treat them right! Our mea culpa is too much to do, and not enough time. So, things had to take a back seat…like blog posts.

We are coming out of two major technology advancements for both our simulation technology: F.I.S.T., and GisterPRO 2.0. Only recently have we been able to breathe a sigh of relief and look out to the real world of business development. So, thank you for your patience as we go about updating our websites and working to communicate our exciting new capabilities and relationships. Stay tuned!

Not that my 94 year old Grandpa is going to start playing Xbox anytime soon, but according to this particular survey gamers are an average of 34 years of age. So my point is that training departments can’t be naysayers about how the generation that works for them currently wouldn’t be interested in a video game since they aren’t hiring teenagers. In addition the study found that 40% of gamers were female and more than two-thirds of US households play video games. If you would like to see more statistics from the study, click here.

I had to laugh when I wrote the title of this blog post. It’s something that I have thought for a long time, but recently there has been a buzz about this on TV and the Internet. So here I am to prove it to you and then you can pass it along to other non-believers…CNN recently published an article by Scott Steinberg entitled “How video games can make you smarter” in the article, Steinberg outlines that the interactivity of video games help your intelligence. Backing up the article is one study from Loyalist College which showed that students playing a simulation saw test scores jump from 56% to 95%. And not to mention Directory of Duke University’s Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center, Dr. Jeffrey Taekman stating that “Serious games and virtual environments are the future of education.”

The key take-aways (just as I have been preaching) are:
-Build brain cells by requiring extensive problem solving, dynamic decision-making skills and teamwork.
-Encourage players’ confidence
-Hands-on experience
-Job training
-Contextual learning
-Teamwork and collaboration

So there you have it, I hope I have made a believer of you now.

With the ringing in of the New Year it is once again time to recap the Top 10 blog posts from 2010. Happy New Year to everyone!

Study Shows Video Games Really Do Train People!
In the article entitled “Video Games Can be Highly Effective Training Tools, Study Shows: Employees Learn More, Forget Less, Master More Skills” a study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School established that those trained by video games do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than that of workers learning in a less interactive environment.

Top 10 Training Mistakes Organizations Make
All too often organizations make the same age old mistakes when choosing and implementing a training program. Below is a list of 10 common training mistakes that organizations make time and time again.

Linden Lab and the Future of Virtual Worlds
With the recent announcement of Linden Labs (you know the company behind Second Life) to begin restructuring, one must wonder what the future has in store for our friends. Does this really translate to the end of all the hype surrounding virtual worlds?

So it’s not exactly decision-based or a virtual world, what the heck is it?

We are officially announcing a new capability of which we are very proud: ‘Hybrid Simulations’…where we lovingly bake in the best elements of Decision-Based Sims with the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of Virtual Worlds.

Training Today’s Military Forces
Military forces around the world rely on computer-based simulators to provide invaluable training for today’s warfighters. More and more military branches are turning to the simulation and virtual training market to increase retention and performance of our treasured warfighters, maximizing the benefits of this training technology.


Militainment, huh? Just the name makes it sound so gamey and just plain wrong for training today’s techno savvy warfighters. The title itself belies the high standards of military training today. Take for example the official U.S. Army game called America’s Army, while it is a wildly popular gaming application and not to mention a great online recruiting tool, it’s still just a game.

Emulating Human Voice-overs with TTS Voices, Part Two
Since there was great interest in a blog entry last Fall called, ‘Emulating Human Voice-overs with TTS Voices’ I have elected to present those lessons as a Vlog, and so it makes sense that we give this newer presentation the same title, but suffixed with ‘Part Two’.

Serious Training Calls for Serious Games
Proven to be more effective than traditional training methods, Serious Gaming (SG) has many unique advantages. It’s not a new concept- it has been around for awhile dating as far back as 1977 when Clark Abt discussed the idea and used the term in his book, although it wasn’t directed to computers at that time.

E-Learning: Is It Really Worth It?
In a prior post I touched briefly on how e-learning tends to be, well, oversold. To follow up on this I wanted to review the relative costs associated with e-learning and compare to other technologies. With nearly one-third of training content being delivered electronically (according to ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report) it’s no wonder it is such an easy go to.

Virtual Worlds & Training…Do They Mix With Social Media?

Social media seems to be all the rage right now. Is it really possible to infuse social media into a virtual world space? Would it be beneficial or detrimental?

It’s finally out! Video games are actually highly effective training tools, something that Visual Purple and I have been lamenting all along- but nevertheless a reputable study is now out to back it up! The news broke in October in a write up in Science Daily – yes, we are remiss in not getting this out in front of you sooner.

Although in my mind the term ‘video games’ would throw most off from reading the article, I persevered and would rather change the title from reflecting ‘video games’ to that of ‘serious games.’ In the article entitled “Video Games Can be Highly Effective Training Tools, Study Shows: Employees Learn More, Forget Less, Master More Skills” a study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School established that those trained by video games do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than that of workers learning in a less interactive environment.

According to the article “Sitzmann spent over a year examining 65 studies and data from 6,476 trainees and discovered those using video games had an 11 percent higher factual knowledge level, a 14 percent higher skill-based knowledge level and a 9 percent higher retention rate than trainees in comparison groups.” The findings further confirm that video games/ serious games really do have a purpose in the workplace and can provide a great level of value to any organization that utilizes them to train.

By leveraging simulation for training purposes a company can reap a host of benefits, not the least of which is significant cost savings. The fundamental design goal of a computer generated decision simulation is to create the learning environment that is learner/ trainee centric. While specific characteristics of game design are employed within the simulation, authentic stories and scenarios are key in the believability that the training simulation itself promotes. Typically the trainee analyzes a situation presented within a simulation, makes a decision, and the simulation then provides feedback on that decision. By utilizing this cause and effect method the simulation aids in developing real-life knowledge and skills. This method of training has been proven to motivate learners and allow for you to actually “do something” in an immersive environment and more significantly provide the ability to practice high consequence/life threatening tasks all within a no-risk environment. Simulations are inherently highly experiential, no matter the application.


Oh the tainted “G” word; yes, I said it! Games are great, whether they are played on a board for family game night or on-line such as the perennially popular World of Warcraft. But can a virtual world simulation also be considered a serious game? Well technically, maybe yes. For most outside government training, games are a perfectly acceptable descriptor for some training, but the term of virtual worlds layers in added dimensions (pun intended)… maybe games just does not do justice for what can be achieved in virtual worlds. Games and virtual worlds in the same sentence doesn’t exactly inspire one to think or believe that ‘real’ learning or training value will be realized. Accordingly, we’ve adopted the term “serious virtual world,” kinda works, huh?!

Moving beyond the “game” definition, serious games and serious virtual worlds have much to offer. From elaborate engagement mechanisms such as mini-apps or game elements to questing, all of this begs certain questions: where do you draw the line on what is a game vs. simulation, or can one be both? I say game on!

A recent report from GameIndustry stated that 83% of the United States population plays games; averaging 10.5 hours spent playing per week.

Percentage of US Population Playing MMOs/Virtual Worlds
Image courtesy of Game Industry

More and more leading companies are adopting games for learning. Perhaps ‘game’ has a negative connotation for some. And I am sorry to say that in some instances I know why, some so called “serious games” look like really bad jokes to even the untrained eye.

According to a 2008 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which works to further understanding of entrepreneurship, the economic impact of a great lecture can improve learning outcomes by 17 percent, while switching to a different delivery mechanism such as serious gaming can improve learning outcomes by 108 percent! Yes that is a 91 percent difference between a lecture vs. a different delivery method (such as a serious game).

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

Are games being taken seriously enough? For one reason or another, often the term ‘serious game’ results in negative stereotypes. But why? Perhaps more often than not simply for the term ‘game’ in the title. But serious games really can prove themselves as providing real learning and training value. In a “serious game,” training and education are the primary goals. Military simulations are among the more well known types of ‘serious games’. Of course there are a variety of serious games that are unrelated to military fields.

What do serious games bring to the table? Active involvement, relevance to the real world, increase in retention rates, the ability to practice and learn complex tasks in a safe environment, engagement of learners and improved performance (to name a few). Serious games offer a value beyond entertainment and are an extremely powerful training tool.

Will corporate America be the next to take on serious games as part of the training mix? With more and more organizations turning to the serious types of learning that actively involve the training, serious games just might be the next big thing (aside from sliced bread of course).

Military organizations are turning more and more to ‘serious’ game-based simulations to train war fighters. We were pleased to see that ReportLinker echoes our outlook on the military simulation and virtual training market to “increase significantly” in the future. Forecasts within the report are for the 2008- 2018 timeframe, the report projects military simulation and virtual training market will generate multi-billion dollar revenues in years to come. The report, cites difficulties with “training costs” and “time and risk of life” that have “forced military forces around the world to adapt technologies such as computer-based simulators and computer wargames in military training.” The summary notes that both combat and non-combat uses of virtual applications will rise in number.

According to ReportLinker, “Increasing concerns over training costs, time and risk of life have forced military forces around the world to adapt technologies such as computer-based simulators and computer wargames in military training. Most importantly, simulation and virtual training have so far proved to be not only cost-effective but also an effective way to train military staff in a wide range of activities. Those functions range from weapons training to flying and even medical training. Both combat and non-combat applications for military simulations and gaming technologies with increase significantly during the period 2008-2018.”

See Visual Purple’s work in embedded training technology for the military.

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YouTube Visual Purple Embedded Training