The case for serious games in business: games that enable change

Gamification is hot! Serious games seem to be the way of the future. The classic classroom and textbook based linear learning system we still suffer today will be a thing of the past tomorrow. No more classrooms, no more textbooks, no more boring stuff… Or is it?

At Changing Games we too are convinced of the effectiveness of games for professional learning. We are also convinced that games are not standalone items, although they can be offered as such. In our view games offer something that is missing in the classic linear learning systems: gaining a lot of practical experience in little time. In other words, games add rather than replace.

In my posts “why do animals play… and do humans go to school” last year I shared how we came to start developing one of our serious games that aims at gaining experience for a full business strategy ce. But why is gaining experience through a game so important? Why not simply get the knowledge from a textbook and in a classroom and then go out there and gain experience as you do? In our opinion there is something else that is highly needed. A good term for it could be: critical thinking. A good catchphrase could be: don’t only learn what to know, don’t only learn what to think, learn also how to think. Textbooks and classrooms are great for the what-to-know-and-what-to-think part. Games can also add there but are the only ones perfect for the how-to-think part. Learning how to think requires a safe environment that triggers experimentation. This is typically not readily available in practice, for all sorts of valid reasons, but widely available in games. A good game will get people to reflect on the way they think, and that is the best seed one can plant for inducing change.

Jan-Willem Boots

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