The Impact of Serious Games on the Workplace

Achieving High Rates of Direct Knowledge and Skill Transfer to the Job

Corporate educators know from research and our own experience that after learning new information and skills, workplace performance depends on the learners’ depth of engagement during their training. The more engaging the learning, the higher the retention of knowledge and transfer of skills directly to the job. Logically then, learners’ intense engagement in serious games (game-like software meant for education), with their challenges to win or simulations of real situations, would enhance both retention and transference of newly learned abilities.

Trainers and front-line supervisors alike have seen examples of situations where emotion encodes the experience in memory. In serious games, the element of competition gives that emotional boost to learning and its transfer to the job. Practice may make perfect, but any sports coach will tell you that the most effective practice involves some form of challenge. The workplace itself is challenging in many ways, and the challenges inherent in serious games prepare learners with mental agility and the will to explore and take calculated risks—capabilities that serve employees more broadly than the scope of any single game’s content.

In the business world, game-based simulations of realistic situations allow for "safe failures" so the participants can learn from trial and error, a preferred learning mode for students who exhibit leadership talent with a can-do attitude. The gaming experience, which rewards decision-making and reasonable risk-taking, can add coaching along the way and allows for diverse thinking skills—not just getting the one right answer.

Bottom Line: You Achieve High ROI

Let’s look at one very real-world example of games’ impact on the workplace. Inste PSCU Financial Services found budgetary advantages and time savings in using Sealund’s Serious Games Engine called "3D Racetrack AssessAll™" to have their own content quickly loaded into the game engine. The serious games they needed were developed, tested and ready for training more quickly and more cost-effectively than if their internal training department had had to create the games (or even classroom training) from scratch or if they had outsourced development entirely.

How can you tell that the emotional motivation of challenge in game-play will truly achieve the learning transfer to the job? For one thing, PSCU observed that many of the learners replayed the game until they could print out the certificate of completion with a score of 100 percent. Winning matters—and with serious games, everybody wins.

Questions? Contact Barbara Sealund at

First published on Human Resources IQ.