Real-life development through serious gaming

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Marcus Vlaar, creative director of Ranj Serious Games, wrapped up our Serious Games session. He explained that the use of gaming is in one’s ability to arrive at new solutions (but also to reveal new problems) that one may not have arrived at from more traditional methods of thinking. The objective of serious games is thus to make illusions so realistic that they encourage creative strategies for real-life problem solving.

“Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.”

During any game, a player is forced to invest time and effort in order to achieve a certain goal. If there is a balance between the difficulty of a challenge and your own skill level, then you will constantly be engaged with the experience, and will devote extreme attention to it. Games offer a window of opportunity for a wide variety of fields because they have the ability to attract an individual’s full attention while creating an important learning environment. If learning by doing is the most effective way of doing something, then games provide huge opportunities. Just look at the following chart shown to the audience:

Active Involvement: What we remember


Serious gaming can be formulated for a large variety of organizations. Their programming can be as narrow or as non-structured as needed depending on the objective it aims to achieve.

For example, games can be used for:

  • Students from a variety of disciplines
  • Children with disabilities (as an alternative to medicine)
  • Job recruitment, training, and compliance
  • Fine motor skill training for young children
  • Good governance

One example presented to the audience was an office game that identified the type of coworker a person was. The game asks a set of questions and then poses a series of scenarios to each player. Each player has to respond to the scenario as he would if he was in the real-life office environment. The game is effective at identifying individual work behaviors and presents constructive feedback depending on a player’s score from the simulation. Because a player is able to receive this feedback without his or her boss seeing the result, it has been found to be more constructive and less embarrassing to the individual. The game presents a self-contained experience, allowing a person to explore the boundaries of his behavior without social consequences.

Beyond testing for whether an individual can process information, serious games allow an individual to apply what they know into practice. Knowing whether an individual is able to apply information is often a more important indicator of job success. Thus, serious games have begun making appearances as a recruitment tool for major businesses, such as law firms. Creating a scenario and asking applicants to respond appropriately during these simulations provides recruiters with a better picture of who is the best fit for a certain position. It is often much more indicative than through browsing through a list of CVs. Serious games show great potential for the future of skills training and development in a variety of sectors.