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Serious gaming; building skills or wasting time?


The term gaming can be misinterpreted by many. People who have no connection to gaming, in any sector of their lives, will most likely connect the term with games for children, usually video games that are a way to pass time. In many cases, they will also consider gaming to be nothing more than a waste of time. Why play a video game when you can read a book or watch an informative documentary?

It has been scientifically proven that games are able to enhance the comprehensive ability of children, improving their way of thinking and giving them the ability to conduct more complicated actions and observe more complex patterns. In a way, we could say that gaming is far from a waste of time. On the contrary, it is a great way to train the mind in multiple different situations. It is no accident that some of the world’s most well-known strategy games and puzzle/problem-solving games have been specifically created to address children at a young age.

As we pass on from games designed for children to games designed for adults we notice that the very nature of the games changes. Yes, video games can be played to pass the time but the very concept of training through them has become a vital part for businesses.

As a result, the term serious gaming has emerged and it is a term that describes an entirely different concept when it comes to gaming. Serious gaming refers to games that have been specifically created to train specific skills and competencies. These games are usually addressed to businesses, employees, organizations and in many cases students in higher education institutions focusing on training their skills and competencies for the labor market.

Over the past few years, serious gaming has started entering schooling environments as well, aiming to prepare students for the labor market as well.

Are they a waste of time or a way to build skills?

Serious gaming is still very new to the world of businesses. As a result, it is not something that employers or even employees can completely trust. There are other techniques like work-based learning seminars that have been around for much longer. These techniques have already proven to have good results and employers often wonder why they should change these techniques to use something new and practically uncharted.

The answer is simple. Technology is evolving fast. The labor market is changing and some methods although resultful, are considered outdated. Digital skills and competencies cannot be trained through books, without any practical exercise. Serious games are giving employees the ability to test out their newly-found knowledge, in digital environments on which they will, eventually, work on in real life.

It is not just about enhancing digital skills of course. There are many important skills that every business employee or owner needs to have that go beyond the basic knowledge of their work. Skills like teambuilding, teamwork, and leadership can have a very bad effect on a business if not trained properly.

Serious gaming is able to provide companies with something that webinars and work-based learning seminars do not. A test environment. Professionally developed serious games are based on statistics and actual possibilities of what might happen if a leader makes the wrong decision or if an employee does not complete the tasks on time or with the right quality results.

Simply reading a book about what you must do or listen to someone talk about it without having the opportunity to test it out yourself could be a waste of time. But having an actual test environment where you could go through several possible working situations and learn how to deal with them by taking actual actions is certainly a much more effective way to train skills and competencies, acquire knowledge and take your work to the next level.

Serious gaming is a great solution for employees and employers to take a step forward. It is a practice that can help build skills effectively and the fact that they can provide a fun and innovative way to learn is a plus.

The European Union, in an effort to change the current status quo of the labor market and insert innovation in every sector, supports serious gaming in all its forms. For employees and employers all the way to students and teachers.

Triple E-dge is one such European project. It aims, on the one hand, to inspire motivation in learners so that they develop their digital skills and on the other hand to involve actively companies in this process. Also, it aims for teachers to feel more confident in integrating entrepreneurial skills in their classrooms as well as digital skills and gaming.

The project additionally brings closer cooperation between VET, organizations and teachers/learners, even companies and offers accreditation for the Triple E-skills acquired through an innovative Badges System.

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