What Can Learning & Development Teams Learn From The Computer Game Industry?

February 20, 2014

The top earning computer game is World of Warcraft which has grossed more than $10 Billion since its launch ten years ago! The industry in general has multiple titles that have grossed at least $1 Billion.

Now I’m not a computer games fan or player but I have children that are. I also teach Apprentices and at course break times computer games are as hot a topic as football. I always know when a new game has arrived at my house as my son (in his early twenties) disappears into his room for even longer stints than usual. In the first few days many cross words are shouted and noises made that sound like a controller hitting a wall or floor! After a few days the angry words are replaced with shouts of jubilation and the controller appears to be less abused.

So what has all this got to do with learning & development I hear you say? Well here is the answer!

I am sure you are all aware of the four stages of learning and the inevitable learning ‘dip’ that occurs when we (as humans) try anything new. If not, do a search on google. When we attend a training course which has a large element of ‘soft skills’ development, we usually have to do exercises and role plays to practise the theory being taught. At this point it feels ‘clunky’, difficult and on occasions incredibly frustrating. We want to throw something ourselves, usually at the instructor or alternatively the manager that sent you on the course!

What most organisations are incredibly poor at, is fully explaining to people why they are going on a training course in the first place. I often ask these two questions at the start of a course, “What do you understand about this course and why you are here?” I am shocked and saddened that in MOST cases they have been told nothing! As a result they have had no time to prepare for the course or to start thinking about the subject matter.

Can you imagine a computer game being released into the market without any pre-publicity? No one would buy it, it would have no perceived value and it would probably fail commercially. If people did buy it by chance, they would try to play it, find it was hard and give up on it!

Can you see where I’m going here? Learning should be promoted and advertised well in advance of the event. A computer game would release footage of ‘play’ to create desire and understanding of the aims of the game. A learning event needs similar publicity to ensure the same.

Computer games are talked about for months in anticipation of release, learning needs to be talked about too! The best learning programmes I have seen in business are those that are given their own identity and branding. Posters and messages promoting the learning programme are everywhere! This promotes discussion and questions well ahead of the start date, so everyone understands the “why?” before they start to learn the “how?”

When something is anticipated it has more value and therefore when we try but find it’s hard, we don’t give up, we stick at it, we support our colleagues and they support us. We learn together as a team. As a result of this approach we learn quicker and this has highly positive commercial benefits as the change/training are completed faster.

So, if you have a learning event to plan, take heed and think about computer games!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training


(Image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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