So maybe you are, or maybe you are not a gamer. A 2011 study by the Entertainment Software Association showed that at least 72 percent of American households actually are gamers. That number has risen by almost 10 percent in the last two years. In addition, the study showed that 42 percent of gamers are women and that women ages 18 years and older represent more than one third of the gaming population.
Parents are even getting into it, the study showed that forty-five percent of parents play video and/or computer games with their children at least once a week. The report stated that parents actually believe in the education and mental stimulation that the game brings to their child.
So much for the ‘ol board game and quality family time.
Children awe at being read stories from simple books that have textures for them to feel as a baby/ toddler to the grade school history text books. The point is that we are brought up around stories from an early age. Even though adults nowadays may be getting away from the traditional hardcover or paperback types of books, storytelling is still here. It may just reside in iPads and Kindles and the like instead. But what makes stories jump off the page? Well of course you can read a book full of text without pictures, while most of us tend to create specific images in our mind of the different scenarios being played out- is that really enough? By using “digital storytelling” the user is being immersed into a realistic environment that replicates the real world down to a tee.
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” –Robert McKee
Digital storytelling is the art utilizing computer-based tools to tell a story. So I consider Visual Purple’s intelligent training simulations to do the same. Although the storyline of a simulation is immersive by itself we pepper it with decision blocks (and yes we do use Hollywood writers to craft our intelligent training simulations). Digital Stories also may encompass audio narration, images/ reference materials, video clips, etc.
More popular in the 90’s it seems as though some are still married to the whole idea of soft-skills training. This is like looking back in history for us here at Visual Purple and seeing something that we did 10+ years ago and then thinking of how far our simulations have advanced since the early days of soft-skills training. In today’s training era there are so many more options than what traditional types of soft-skills training once offered. It’s kind of like having an 80’s hair-do in 2010; some people just might look at you a little strange. No longer is it as unique or flexible as once thought- not too immersive, nor entertaining. Today faster computers allow the use of high-fidelity 3D environments and other vast improvements over what ‘old school’ (oh I mean soft-skills training) once offered. And dare I mention the outdated CBT (Computer-Based Training) regime?!
Can training and entertainment really be delivered within a happy medium? Or does one have to train with a complete lack of entertainment? We have a theory here at Visual Purple and that is to add in certain elements to make training more entertaining, after all who wants to sit through three hours of seat time in a simulation learning environment learning about the concepts of compliance within a company without a few entertaining scenarios thrown into the mix? Let me just throw in my yawn now. It’s amazing to see e-Learning marketing today that emphasizes the fact that they now have fancier buttons to push within the course- let me just say this does not make something more entertaining. In stark contrast, immersive simulations result is richer experiences that encompass the processes of thinking, interacting, and doing, rather than rote memorization of factual content. The Edgar Dale studies have shown that “simulation training is a specialized type of e-learning that engages the learner into taking an active part in the training rather than simply reading or listening.”
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.