What comes to your mind when you hear the word “game”? Many people see playing games as the opposite of being productive, something you do in your spare time merely for fun, as a form of escapist entertainment.
We founded Playlearn driven by the mission to bring Game-Based Learning at the heart of Education and Self-growth. We truly believe that games are brilliant tools for enhancing learning and acquiring skills.
Good games are masters of keeping people engaged and motivated until they have completed their in-game objectives. Isn’t that what companies also want from their employees? Isn’t that what we all want from the people we work with?
But what is it that games teach us anyway?
1. ACCELERATED LEARNING
When you play a game, you rapidly get to know what helps you achieve your goal and what does not. You are rewarded with points, coins or other in-game mechanics whenever you take an inspired action and lose points when you make a mistake. Thus, games provide you with a constant feedback loop that generates accelerated learning and gives you an immediate sense of your progress. Video games in particular take the learning process to the next level by constantly adjusting the difficulty level to players' abilities. As your skills grow, you are provided with more difficult challenges to solve, demanding "more dexterity, quicker reaction times and more clever and complex solutions" (Granic et al., 2013).
Granic et al. wrote: “Games continuously provide novel challenges, demanding players to shift already established appraisals to new ones in order to most efficiently reach goals.” By doing this, games force you to constantly readjust your strategy to the new conditions. Often, you may start with one strategy in mind and realize, while playing, that unless you change it, you are prone to lose.
3. DECISION MAKING
While playing a game, you have a limited amount of actions, resources and sometimes even limited time. You have to permanently choose what actions to take, what tactics to follow, while at the same time keeping a long-term strategy in mind. You either make decisions or stop playing. Simple as that.
Games constantly throw you into situations where you need to find solutions and ways to overcome increasingly difficult challenges. Thus, you get to develop your creativity. You realize that there are multiple ways to solve a problem and find new in-game combinations to help you achieve your goal.
Games manage to naturally enhance persistence. Contrary to what we might expect, during gameplay players respond to failure with excitement, interest and joy (Salminen & Ravaja, 2008), even though they do experience negative emotions, such as anger or frustration (Granic et al., 2013). When they fail, players are highly motivated to return to the win-state and they feel “relentlessly optimistic” about reaching their goals (McGonigal, 2011).
These are only a few examples of what games teach us, yet there still remain many more aspects to be listed. Games keep people thrilled. Games keep people excited. Games keep people enthusiastic. As Granic et al. beautifully put it: “Game designers are wizards of engagement. They have mastered the art of pulling people of all ages into game environments, having them work toward meaningful goals, persevere in the face of multiple failures and celebrate the rare moments of triumph after successfully completing challenging tasks.”
We wish to leave you with this question: How can we design workplaces, infrastructures, systems or even our own lives so that they could be as exciting to experience as it is to play a game?