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Interview to: Kevin Corti, CEO PIXELearning Limited from Learning Review Espana
Learning Review Spain – Issue N° 2 Jan-Feb-Mar, 2008
Subject: Serious Games
1. Nowadays, what are the companies that are more interested in Serious Games? Why do you think this happens?
Generally I don’t see any particular industry sectors dominating the demand side of the serious games space. The finance sector is rapidly becoming a strong part of it but we can also see interest in consumer brands, food and drink companies, petro-chemical and many other sectors. There is also much interest from publicly-funded governmental organizations and NGOs.
I think that if you were to describe a dominant type of serious game adopter, it is generally medium to larger organizations that are well-versed in the use of technology to enhance learning (as well as marketing, recruitment and other business functions), which understand that the younger (<30) age groups have different communication/ICT demands and which have a business culture which is open to change and new approaches.
2. What is the acceptability that Serious Games are getting as corporate training mode?
I can say, based on our experience at PIXELearning and from conversations with several industry peers, that since 2006 the interest in serious games from the corporate sector has most definitely surged. That is not to say, by any means, that it is yet an easy sell but many larger organizations now have people in training/HR functions who are at least aware if games and simulations as learning tools and who are prepared to evangelize internally as well as to start to foster vendor relationships. 2007 has been a great trading year for us (150% growth) however I strongly believe that it is in the next 18 months that we shall see an explosion in acceptance and adoption.
3. What are the main challenges that business developers and implementing companies have to cope?
It used to be that the biggest challenge was to get training/HR professionals to even consider serious games. That no longer seems to be the challenge (in general). Where I would say our challenges lie going into 2008 is around being able to coherently align serious games to specific organizational needs/problems and to build a level of customer-vendor trust that will enable sales opportunities to be closed. Whilst price, or more accurately cost-effectiveness, will always be an issue, I have seen a trend towards the need to prove added value and expected performance/quality improvement over other approaches (such as eLearning). This demands that serious games service, technology and content providers must be able to demonstrate prior case studies, assessment proof and ROI examples.
4. Do you consider that the Serious Games market is still lack of maturity? Which factors do the market requires to get mature?
Absolutely! The market (if it is indeed a single market) is no longer a new-born but is still very much a toddler. I think 2008 will see a rapid acceleration in adoption but I think it will be at least 2010 before we can claim any credible level of ‘maturity’. In order for this to happen it demands a broad level of awareness amongst the customer/commissioning community, a transition of many serious games vendors from being perceived as ‘games’ companies to being recognized as (learning) solutions companies and a large body of successfully implemented serious games implementations of all shapes and sizes in many organizations across many different industry sectors.
5. What is your vision for the medium term (2 years approximately) regarding the Serious Games market in Europe? And the rest of the world?
Although I am absolutely certain that we will see a strong increase in serious games activity in Europe I do not, unfortunately (for Europe) see the continent catching up with the level of activity in the US within the next two years. This is no different to the adoption cycles of many other technologies it simply reflects that the US has, for many reasons, gained a head start. This is particularly true of the military and health sector-orientated serious games projects. I do, however, believe that in general European serious games specialists often provide a better solution to traditional corporate training needs. PIXELearning – which focuses on corporate training & business education – generates, for example, around 75% of its revenue in the US despite the obvious perceived barriers of distance and time zones.
Europe has a strong track record in innovation but, generally speaking, a weakness in marketing compares to North America companies.
A further issue is that many European serious games companies are undercapitalized which makes it hard to generate and sustain growth. I would like to think that this is an area where European companies can overcome these issues and compete on an equal and positive basis with US competitors.