Serious Game Development Best Practices For Effective Learning
Have you ever gone through the long process of developing a serious game just for your employees to ignore it or find it unhelpful in their learning journey? If yes, you might have been led to believe that serious games are not that effective in helping your employees develop their skills. However, that’s far from the truth. Serious games can be a valuable tool in accomplishing training goals as long as you know more than the basic steps of their development. In this article, you will find 7 serious game development best practices that will lead to the best possible results.
7 Serious Game Design Tips You Need To Know
1. Focus On One Goal At A Time
Businesses will often focus too much on immersion and engagement, developing epic serious games that take employees hours to complete. Such games may be tempting, as they tackle multiple learning objectives at once, but they ultimately make you lose sight of the purpose of employee training. Serious games are supposed to focus on one L&D objective and allow employees to complete levels in short amounts of time. This results in quicker learning and also enables employees to practice whenever they have a few minutes available or in a moment of need.
2. Keep Your Content Relevant
Usually, when we talk about games, we get images of dragons and fairies in our minds. And there surely is room for you to be creative when developing serious games—see examples of serious games in the next section. However, relatable scenarios that resemble everyday situations will undoubtedly be easier for your employees to relate to. For example, if you’re training employees on dealing with difficult customers, it’s best that you use realistic customer personas instead of mythical creatures that only capture the eye but don’t manage to convey useful and educational information.
3. Prioritize Usability
A serious game development best practice to keep in mind for successful implementation is prioritizing convenience. Previously, we discussed how limiting the game’s duration contributes to better learning outcomes. But there is more to consider. Making the game easy to access and navigate is of utmost importance for learner engagement. Incorporate intuitive controls and add tutorials at the beginning of the game to make its purpose and requirements clear. It’s also essential that your workforce can access the serious game via computer, smartphone, or tablet. eLearning authoring tools can usually ensure the game is operational on different platforms and screen sizes.
4. Develop Materials In Various Formats
Serious games are mostly visual experiences, but that doesn’t mean it should be the only format you develop. Employees get a ton of information from serious games, and if it is only in one format, it will end up overwhelming them. Instead, make sure to incorporate a variety of materials, such as different types of visual (videos as well as animations) and auditory stimuli. Background music and sound effects can make the game more immersive and increase motivation. You can also utilize haptic stimuli, i.e., vibrations or manipulation of real-life objects experienced through Augmented Reality equipment.
5. Make It Interactive
You might think that games are interactive by definition, but the truth is that levels of interactivity can vary greatly. Some games allow users to perform limited actions, while others let them engage with all elements of their surroundings. Our serious game development best practice is striking a balance between the two so that the serious game is neither too boring and predictable nor too challenging. In any case, remember that interactivity boosts engagement by fostering active participation, honing critical thinking, and encouraging users to be creative. This confidence to explore various problem-solving paths will then be transferred to the real-world work environment, making your employees more flexible and adaptable.
6. Design It For Multiple Gaming Sessions
An often overlooked best practice is designing for replayability. Games that can only be played once achieve minimal immersion and provide virtually no chances for repetition, both elements that are essential in learning. On the contrary, games that can be played multiple times enhance engagement, knowledge retention, and the learning experience overall. Replayability can be achieved by utilizing branching scenarios, levels with an adjustable difficulty level, and more. In doing so, you ensure that employees extract as much information as possible from the serious game and that they view it as a valuable learning tool that they can use long-term.
7. Update Regularly
The final best practice for serious game development you need to keep in mind is that they are not static. Serious games may need to change for various reasons, such as updating information, freshening up your incentivization methods, or incorporating a new technology that has emerged in the industry. At the very least, games require maintenance to deal with glitches and bugs that impact the learning experience. For optimal results, be proactive about it and make sure to schedule regular operational checks and establish channels through which you can gather feedback from users. This way, your serious game will always remain operational and share up-to-date information.
What Are The Types Of Serious Games?
Now that we have discussed everything you need to know about serious game development, it’s time to see what types of serious games you can create for your employees. There are various ways to classify serious games, but in this list you will find some of the most common ones based on their primary purpose and target audience.
- Educational games: These serious games are designed for academic purposes and are most commonly used in schools, universities, and online learning platforms.
- Training and simulations: These are the serious games we’re mostly referring to in this article. Specifically, serious games used in professional settings to train various employee skills.
- Health and wellness games: These games promote physical and mental health, encouraging users to adopt healthy habits, manage stress, exercise their minds, and more.
- Behavioral change games: These games aim to change certain behaviors, such as improving nutrition, adopting sustainable practices, etc.
- Crisis management games: Serious games like this are used to enhance preparedness for emergency situations and disaster response. They are used by organizations as well as individuals.
- Language learning games: Designed to teach users new languages, specialized vocabulary, and cultural differences.
- Finance and business games: These serious games are used by people who want to enhance their knowledge of finance, economics, and business management.
- Art and creativity games: As their main purpose is to hone artistic skills, these are the most creative serious games. They can be used in fields such as music, drawing, etc.
- Safety and security games: These games are perfect for safety compliance training, as they educate individuals and employees on the safety measures and protocols they must follow.
Serious game development is a dynamic process that seeks to find the balance between entertainment and education to provide the best learning outcomes. Creating an effective serious game from scratch is a demanding task that requires you to possess extensive knowledge. In this article, we shared 7 serious game development best practices that will undoubtedly help you set and accomplish the right learning objectives. In addition, we touched on the various types of serious games that you can create based on the needs of your workforce.