Handheld Technology

Practical ways VR and gaming can be used to advance learning

The world of gaming has always divided people into two camps: those that think it’s a complete waste of time and those that see its benefits beyond mere enjoyment. On day two at the Learning Technologies event in London, it was clear that most exhibitors fell into the second camp. Employers are tapping into the fun element of gaming and using a variety of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to train and develop employees in a variety of functions from sales to the medical field.

Below are some highlights from the event.

Games to help “diagnose or prevent” illnesses

BAFTA-winning games studio Preloaded has been making “games for training” for 15 years and tackle almost any subject matter from designing clinical health games for rehabilitation and diagnosis to staff training games to increase productivity.

Ben Courtney, Game Design Lead at Preloaded talks about how the “Candy Crush” phenomena bought that “quick fire element into our pockets” and used “social competition” to engage users. He thinks that the Candy Crush formula could be used in a learning environment to combine that “addictive” feeling we get from playing games with actual learning potential.

Virtual reality as an excellent training tool

Elearning Studios uses virtual reality to provide a number of courses such as public speaking and staff health and safety training with the Samsung Gear VR headset.  

Public speaking

The idea with this is, you walk on to the stage (just like you would in real-life) to speak to hundreds of audience members. As you speak, you are judged on your tone of voice and audience connection. At the end you are given feedback on how you did. As I was at the exhibition, I couldn’t practice my public speaking without looking weird but visually this was impressively realistic as you can’t help but feel slight trepidation walking on to the stage just like you would in real life. 

Fire escape

In this training exercise, I was put into an office with a real fire emergency situation and had to undergo various steps in order to get everyone to safety. This involved things like breaking the fire glass by tapping the side button on the headset, picking up the fire extinguisher and extinguishing the fire. It was not completely seamless as I had to tap the side button a number of times to sometimes pick the right option (admittedly this could have been me tapping the wrong button).

When I took the headset off, I did feel quite queasy even for an hour or two afterwards. Once the “queasy” factor is solved I can definitely see the benefits of using this type of training method as the whole experience was so realistic that it would be easy to remember the training afterwards as well.

Car dealers tapping into gamification for training

Phillip Price, Manager of Virtual Academy Operations at PSA Peugeot Citroën talked about how the current method of delivering training courses is not engaging enough and the future lies in gamification. He says that Peugeot has already seen a “40% rise in engagement” through gamification and talks about how gaming can be used to engage car dealers to sell more cars and compete with each other in a fun way through leaderboards.  

“People today are learning in a completely different way. With a game, dealers are immersed from the start and can improve product knowledge, qualification skills and build brand values.”

What’s next?

Increasingly game developers are seeing the power of gaming in creating empathy in users. A game called That Dragon, Cancer made players break down in tears as it depicts a family’s journey of dealing with losing their son to cancer. Storyteller Chris Milk is using virtual reality to produce films to make people feel empathy for worlds that are completely different to our own. It will be interesting to see whether this is utilised in the workplace.


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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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