Let’s talk about video games. Over the last couple decades they have gone from puzzle pieces falling down a screen, to little characters on a horizontal adventure, to social networks, to interactive movies where the player dictates the storyline. They have become beautiful works of art, with graphics that can completely immerse you in a fantastical (or incredibly realistic) world where every decision can have a direct consequence. However, what I see as an art form often gets a bad rap.
I’m not going to sit here and write about the impact violent video games have or have not had on our society. Or how we should all be outside gardening instead (isn’t that true of almost any activity that isn’t gardening?). Let’s instead change focus. Let’s look at how how playing video games can be great practice in becoming a quick-thinking, patient, and level-headed part of the universe and perhaps even decide that a video game aspect could be a great idea for your next e-learning course.
“Patience you must have”
The most eagerly anticipated Christmas present in our house last year was Star Wars Battlefront for PlayStation 4. It’s been an extension of my childhood, being able to control the characters that I used to have as action figures when I was little as the Star Wars frenzy of my generation was in full swing with the release of Episode I.
This has also been one of the first games that I’ve played online, since I’ve never considered myself good enough to play with people outside of my home. This time I just went for it, hoping that the more I played, the better I would get.
It was immediately evident that people play day and night to become digital commandos. I started getting frustrated as these geniuses would shoot, punch, or blow up my character over and over again. Every time it happened (which was nearing 30 times in a 10-minute game), I was faced with a choice: throw my controller across the room, turn the system off, or keep playing and try to figure out how I am making myself such an easy target. I am proud to say I have yet to choose option one, a little embarrassed to admit that option two has happened a few times, but happy to share that option three is my go-to.
How does this translate in the workplace? Well, I sit beside our founder, Brian, and I suspect if he watched me launch my laptop across the office when I couldn’t get a piece of code to work, I may wind up with more video game time at home during the day.
“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”
While this example is a little extreme, we all face similar challenges and frustrations at work. The act of going back, finding your mistakes, and trying something new to fix them, all while being patient, should be an important feature in any job. Whatever challenges your learners face, it’s important to teach them effective response methods.
This is something that is easy to practice in a gamified e-learning environment, where the stakes are low and you have as many chances to improve as the game allows. It makes failure or rejection easier to stomach when you’re not literally destroying a piece of your business.
A good game shows you what you did wrong. While Battlefront shows me a simulation of my failure (because who doesn’t want to see their character fly through the air a second time?), a simple piece of feedback explaining the problem with tips on how to improve next time or where to review information can be just as effective—and slightly less infuriating.
So, let’s keep talking about video games. Let’s change the conversation and see what kinds of self-improvements can come from playing them. Heck, let’s go play some!