Using Casual Games to Increase Learning Engagement

Casual Games Increase Learning Engagement

Published: 27th February 2017

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People are more disengaged than ever. According to a poll by the Gallup organization in 2015, more than 50% of employees were not engaged and 17.2% were actively disengaged.

Regardless of the specific category of disengagement, it is a big problem for organizations in terms of motivation and productivity.

How do you teach these people new information, some of which might be very important, such as content related to health and safety? Games such as Pokémon Go can capture the minds and energy of millions of adults, wouldn’t it be great to channel that within a corporate setting?

Would it be such a bad idea to let employees play games?

Recent research was undertaken on the Axonify platform to understand if playing a casual game leads to higher levels of learning compared to simply answering multiple choice questions.

The research found that playing games does result in higher levels of engagement with the platform and voluntary learning.

Employees given the option to play a game logged into the platform 51% more frequently than those without the option to play the game.

Of course it is probably not a huge surprise that employees engaged more with the learning platform when they had the opportunity to play a game.

There is a body of thought that participation in learning is higher when games are involved because players are in a state of ‘flow’. Flow is a mental state whereby the individual is fully immersed and focused in what he or she is doing (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975)

State of flow seems to enable employees to better concentrate on the content within the platform after they have played a game for a few moments.

Learners seemed to enjoy putting themselves into a state of flow, which also increases use of the platform.

It is possible that playing casual games enhances learning by increasing vigilance and alertness before the employee is shown the learning content. Neuroscience research on memory has consistently demonstrated that increased physiological arousal assists with the process of storing new memories. (Hamann, 2001; Cahill & McGaugh, 1998)

Attentiveness, flow, and alertness are all signs of engagement. Playing games is a good way to avoid employee disengagement and to help deliver learning.

References:
Cahill, L., & McGaugh, J. L. (1998). Mechanisms of emotional arousal and lasting declarative memory. Trends in neurosciences, 21(7), 294-299.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Play and intrinsic rewards. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15(3), 41-63.
Hamann, S. (2001). Cognitive and neural mechanisms of emotional memory. Trends in cognitive sciences, 5(9), 394-400.


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