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Games allow teams to learn, engage and grow together


Within the last five years, the game and gaming industries have developed significantly, offering new ways to learn skills, to remember new information more easily, and to get the attention of young people. However, the important role of serious games in company life is also very clearly reflected in international studies. In this article, I want to briefly explain what serious games are and how they can help teams learn, engage, and grow together.


First, it is important to understand the difference between the concepts of "serious games" and "gamification". Yes, it's not the same. The concept of gamification is related to activities based on external stimuli (competition, victory, awards, recognition points). Gamification activates behavior, but research so far does not show lasting learning or behavioral change. Until the external stimuli disappear, the behavior returns to the usual track. For example, a company wishing to activate a healthy lifestyle among its employees organizes a health campaign in which employees accumulate points through physical or other activities and receive the reward for their behavior at the end. The campaign time ends, the prizes are distributed, and people relax. In contrast, serious games have a different mission and setting. They usually work with a person's internal motivation, provide experiential learning, create a safe environment for solving complex issues and long-term results in the team. According to Prensky (2002), a serious games researcher, learning through games that have an element of fun increases people's motivation and interest in the process. He points out that adding the ease of play makes the learning process not only enjoyable, but also more effective.


"Fun" element in the game process creates lightness even in difficult and problematic situations.

On the other hand, an international collective of authors (Aristidis Protopsaltis, Lucia Pannese, Dimitra Pappa, Sonia Hetzner, 2015) in the study “Serious Games and Formal and Informal Learning” explains that serious games engage people on a very personal level, which means learning emotionally and cognitively. And the involvement of these two levels contributes to both people's attention and motivation. I must admit that when I see how the teams under my leadership play "Conversation about change", where this element of "fun" is included through the roles that the employees play, I can fully confirm that the participants are fully committed to the change situation, different perspectives and their level of emotional intelligence in the game will increase over time through learning to listen, reflect and give feedback. Therefore, I notice that this process makes a significant contribution to the work and attitude of the entire team towards each other. This aspect of teamwork is also emphasized by another study, “A Serious Game to develop and assess teamwork competency" of collective of authors from Spain (Mariluz Guenaga, Andoni Eguíluz, Alex Rayón, Asier Núñez, 2015). They point out that there are few games that allow teams to develop as a team, however, they state that the games have the essential role as they allow the development of listening as the key competence, the ability to understand each other and improve the skill of conversation, developing the healthy culture. Likewise, team spirit improves when positive emotions prevail over negativity. And it is the serious games that contribute to this process of team competence development. However, to sum up why games can help teams create ease in the development, problem-solving process, I want to emphasize that purpose is important. The game must have a clear goal that we want to achieve. We may have the best tool in our hands but using it aimlessly will result in just a good or not-so-good time with no real impact. So before introducing game elements to the problem, challenge solution ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the challenge within the team that we want to overcome or solve? (acceptance of change, communication, feedback, cooperation, emotional intelligence in a team, etc.)

  2. What type of game do we need to ease the process? (Experience game; story-based game that promotes engagement; puzzle- type game that requires solving a specific problem; exploratory game that directs the person to external resources for information.)

  3. How does a particular game help us move forward? (it is an opportunity to get valuable information, which can then be used in the search for solutions; it will solve the painful problem; it will allow people to look at each other; it will increase emotional intelligence, etc.)



Teams in Latvia and Germany already play the experience-based and story-based serious game for employee engagement "Conversation about change". Learn more: http://talkaboutchange.org/

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