Video Games: The Future of Business Training?

December 13, 2010 -

The future of corporate training - at least in Ontario - may very well be game-related. From small business owners to college professors, video game-based training is proving to be popular and effective. Several people involved using special business training software in Ontario are profiled in this Vancouver Sun report.

Merle Ballaigues is trying out a new video game-based training system from Burlington, Ontario-based company, E=mz2. Ballaigues is using the software with her sales team to see if it is effective. She is the North American distributor for Thomas International.

"I wanted something new and different. Online game-based training allows you to offer training anywhere at any time," she says.

She says that, so far, the game seems effective and translates into real-world knowledge that her team can use in the field. She claims that the game allows salespeople to choose when they play, and that it reaches across age barriers, allowing participants to compete against themselves and against others.

E=mz2 introduced its first training simulation, Momentium, in 2009. The company has been in the training business since 1985, but recognized that small businesses with limited budgets can't afford to spend the kind of money needed to get traditional training.

"The time and cost to bring people together, often from different parts of the country, was prohibitive," says Marguerite Zimmerman, president and chief executive of E=mz2. "I also knew from my own experience and research that they would not get a sustainable result from one event in a classroom over a couple of days."

"I found myself feeling very frustrated because I knew that what the businesses could afford would not give them the result they wanted," Ms. Zimmerman added. "Technology afforded us the capability to put together a cost-effective way of training sales reps online, providing both the theory and practical applications of the theory in situations they would likely face in real life."

Mandeep Malik, assistant professor of marketing at McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business, thinks that this new approach to training is a novel one - and one that younger team members will take a liking to. This, he says, is the future of corporate training.

"If you can simulate real-life business situations online and present them in the form of a game, you can impart best practices, enhance retention and reduce costs," Malik tells the Vancouver Sun. "These systems are becoming intelligent, students learn as they advance in the game and are exposed to planning, rehearsal, execution and review. The cost of learning face to face with customers is the cost of lost opportunity. Game-based training tools offer an effective, inexpensive alternative."

Malik uses Momentium in his classroom, to help in a particularly tough area for entrepreneurs -- sales training. Momentium uses 120 story-based episodes that Malik uses over the course of three semesters. The school offers students a cloud-based subscription model cost $25 - $30 a week. Participants sign in for 10-to 30-minute sessions three times a week.

"We use stories so there are memory hooks and the frequency moves the learning from short-term memory to long-term memory," Zimmerman says. "If I don't retain something I can't use it."

Source: Vancouver Sun


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