We caught up with Durgesh Nadkarni, Vice President – Game Design at MPS Interactive, who has designed multiple learning and assessment games in his tenure as the head of Serious Games Center of Excellence. Durgesh has produced award-winning games for global organizations. Read on, as he shares his views and predictions for upcoming trends in gaming, the impact of the pandemic on learning games and how organizations can leverage games for impactful learning going forward.
Learning games beyond 2020
What are some of the upcoming trends for learning through games?
For gaming, this is an exciting time and unsurprisingly, we’re seeing a lot of evolution. Most games are going mobile-first due to the exponential growth in smartphone usage. As handheld devices such as phones, tablets, and phablets evolve, so does the presentation of content within a game. Large leaps in mobile bandwidths can accommodate the complex, high-quality game art we’re seeing today.
There are also many Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) games being developed and consumed these days. As organizations shift toward more learning in the flow of work, these high-impact AR/VR games can prove effective in product training and process training for complex industries.
Cloud-based collaborative gaming within learning is gaining momentum too, especially due to dispersed teams and employees working from home. The idea is to give employees a virtual space where they can come together as a team, as competitors, and as leaders, and just play and learn.
When it comes to trends in gaming design, we are seeing a rise in minimalism and the creation of very short games to deliver high-impact messages.
You’ve been in gaming for about a decade now, in what ways have learning games changed from what they were to what they are now?
Earlier, the learning games would center around the subject matter and the topics that needed to be covered. This had a tendency to make the game information-heavy and caused the learner to lose interest.
Today, learning games are centered around the learner. Game designers take into account the players’ behavioral habits and what would entice engagement. We focus on what actions will cause a learner to understand a concept, apply it properly, and remember it.
Do you foresee an increase in demand for learning games after the pandemic?
Games became a sort of sensation during the lockdown and this has caught the attention of learning departments across the world. We have seen people come together through cloud gaming and this shows immense potential in solving some of today’s biggest learning challenges. So naturally, we are seeing a lot of requests to gamify existing content – this is a much easier undertaking and can liven up learning content instantly.
We anticipate that more organizations will shift to entirely digitally-driven learning mechanisms in the immediate future. This will throw the spotlight on serious games as a way to build collaboration within teams and ensure engaging learning experiences. There are also many new ideas on incorporating games into learning content that we are currently experimenting with. So we are definitely preparing for an uptick in games and gamification for learning.
Learning Games and their ROI
What are companies looking for right now?
Many times clients come to us to find out how they can boost existing content through gamification. They look to work in some excitement and engagement, maybe through an interesting game wrapper. We often incorporate leader boards, clickable objects, points, collectible badges, shareable score cards, etc. to meet these needs.
Assessment games have been generating a lot of buzz too. They are relatively easy to create and deploy. It’s a good way to liven up an otherwise dull subject.
But sometimes, we see certain eLearning requirements come in, and immediately we can tell that a game-based approach would be more effective than the regular one. There is always initial scepticism from them about whether a game-based approach really works. As learning solution experts, we then need to show clients the benefits involved in adapting this particular content for a game. These conversations evolve around the ROI generated from a game-based learning module, the stickiness of content, and driving motivation and engagement through games.
What considerations go into designing games for multigenerational workforce?
Is MPS Interactive doing anything different in the gaming space?
We have over 30 years of experience in creating content and that gives us more freedom to innovate and experiment. I would say, the three differentiators of our gaming solutions are our quirky back stories, great game art and visual design, and solid instructional design that scaffolds the game design. But most of all, our games deliver the results that clients are expecting and the industry knows us for this.
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– By Durgesh Nadkarni, Vice President – Game Design at MPS Interactive Systems