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Games That Work

Tom Longstaff and Rotem Guttman discuss gamification and how the concept of serious games can be useful to improve training, especially for teaching complex and sophisticated skills to trainees at graduate levels of education and beyond.

Software Engineering Institute



To discuss how organizations can use gamification to teach real-world skills in complex areas, Tom Longstaff and Rotem Guttman distinguish between normal games and serious games. Normal games can make day-to-day work activities more enjoyable and can even motivate employees by encouraging competition. Serious games, however, obtain benefits beyond the scope of the game itself by exposing trainees to challenges that help them refine complex skills. Tom and Rotem discuss how organizations might apply serious games to teach niche skills in areas like cyber defense to trainees that are at graduate level and beyond. Current research shows that gamification works well with high-school-level students, but Tom and Rotem reflect on how researchers might design studies to expand that work and test how effective serious games can be for developing more sophisticated skillsets for trainees at higher levels of education. In addition, they discuss how the design of serious games engages multiple players, who often work in teams, to complete challenging tasks, switch between roles, and learn multiple approaches and points of view. As a result, the experience exceeds conventional training in that trainees become immersed in the game settings, often as if they were practicing in the real world.