VNU’s ‘Tech Talk’ ( is one of the few email newsletters that I am subscribed to that I actually get around to reading these days. Today I broke my Tech Talk ‘virginity’ with an email response to the following post….


A reader is wondering what kind of games others are incorporating into their e-learning programs. “I’m looking for activities that break up the training a little bit, perhaps adding some levity where appropriate. But at the same time, these games should serve to reinforce the curriculum’s learning objectives. I’m looking for options that we could apply specifically to online delivery scenarios.”

Whilst this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask – especially if the poster is unfamiliar with what is happening in our cosily (still) niche serious virtual immersive games-based simulation worldsindustry (note: irony), I think this is the perfect example of where those of us that preach about the potential of serious games et al should be piping up to help move our learning and development colleagues forward.

Here is my response….

“The statement (e.g. “looking for activities that break up the training a little bit”) suggests that the assumption is that “the training” is, perhaps, somewhat tiresome to work through and that, therefore, a (fun) game element will serve as a refreshing interlude. Whilst this is by no means a bad thing, how about thinking about using ‘serious games’ (or immersive simulations) in a more central role within your learning strategy? “

“If your subject domain includes a describable environment, process, or system that can be simulated, and in which goal-orientated scenarios can be embedded, then games/sim are the missing bit of the training jigsaw for fostering true learner mastery. By all means use discreet, high-energy ‘frame games’ (e.g. the typical game show format) as motivational jolts, but don’t expect these alone to deliver a significant tangible impact.”

We can hold Serious Games and Virtual Worlds conferences and techfests for eternity, but it is genuine everyday needs like this that offer the best potential for establishing a sustainable beachhead in what is, lets face it, a skeptical and risk-averse mass audience still.