Learning game

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a type of structured learning activity used to make learning fun. It can provide a review of material that has been presented to strengthen the learning or evaluate how much learning has occurred.

Purpose and benefit

Games improve knowledge transfer by:

  • Increasing participation among all involved.
  • Improving the learning process by creating an environment where people's creativity and intelligence are engaged.
  • De-stressing learning by making it fun.
  • Addressing the different ways in which people best learn.
  • Adding variety to a training program, which helps to keep people actively involved.

Games can also be used to:

  • Help people prepare for learning by testing current levels of knowledge.
  • Apply a newly learned skill.
  • Learn as they play the game.
  • Practice what has been presented to reinforce the learning.

Learning games help to bridge the gap between specialist of different generations and, if designed correctly, help to simulate haw certain theoretical knowledge can be applied in a broader context.


Games are usually used in conjunction with other learning methodologies, such as presentations and discussions. Using learning games depends on the learning you are trying to convey and whether games will help you meet your learning objectives. Games used at the beginning of a program can measure existing knowledge and build immediate interest in the training material. Games used during a program can help people discover the learning themselves (strengthens recall and commitment), practice using new knowledge or skills, or reinforce initial learning. Games used near the end of a program can test knowledge gained and people's ability to apply it in their work settings. Learning games are perceived very well by younger specialists who are used to work in a gaming style and to learn from games. Even safety related knowledge can be obtained and taken seriously in such a simulation. However a proper integration into a learning/training process is important.


Games can vary enormously in scope and complexity, ranging from simple quizzes to competitions or role games where participants have to solve a practical case based on the knowledge received. There are other tools like 3D visualization of a facility and a virtual exploration of safety significant equipment which can be also perceived as a game. Real and virtual learning games are often used in emergency preparedness and response training

Implementation guide

There are no universal rules on how learning games should be undertaken, as they can be different in nature and even ready-made templates have to be customized for a particular learning objective. The key steps would be the following:

  • Consider how games can be best included in the Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) process
  • Assure theoretical knowledge has been shared with learners/trainees/new-comers through other means (e.g. books, lectures, online resources, training course
  • Develop a scenario/game/simulation and roles for each participant.
  • Conduct the game
  • Reflect results, experience, observations

Success factors

For games to be effective, they must:

  1. Be related to the workplace by providing knowledge, reinforcing attitudes, and initiating action that is important to job success.
  2. Teach people how to think, access information, react, understand, and create value for themselves and their organizations.
  3. Be enjoyable and engaging without being overly simplistic or silly.
  4. Allow for collaboration between learners.
  5. Be challenging yet attainable.
  6. Permit time for reflection, feedback, dialog, and integration. In other words, games should be debriefed.

Common pitfalls

  1. When games are used as an end in themselves and not a means towards an end, they waste time and can hamper learning. Any game outcome should be analysed on ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’.
  2. Using too many games can destroy learning effectiveness.
  3. Knowledge owners often do not take the word ‘game’ very seriously and often have to be convinced that this method should be applied. Interactive exercise can be used as a synonym for a vast majority of learning games.


Meier, Dave, The Accelerated Learning Handbook: A Creative Guide to Designing and Delivering Faster, More Effective Training Programs, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000.

Scannell, E. E. & Newstrom, J. W., The Complete Games Trainers Play, McGraw-Hill, 1995