Everything you need to know about the serious game
Originally developed by the American army to train and evaluate its staff, this principle encompasses any game that has a non-game purpose. For organisations, serious games can help to meet various HR objectives, from recruitment to talent management. Although digital solutions are the most popular today, in the 1960s and 70s, a serious game could take the form of a card or board game based on the model of board games or role-playing games. Today, this learning and evaluation modality is an ally for employers in the various transformations of organisations.
1. The serious game: definition of an engaging method
A teaching composition. Serious games generally have a real architecture based on one or more specific objectives and may include levels to be validated or obstacles to be overcome. Unlike gamification, which we discussed recently, which is more about generating interest and engaging employees, the serious game has a specific learning or skills assessment objective.
An inspiring experience. Mixing entertainment with the desire to achieve a result or finish the course, the structured game mechanics appeal to the competitive spirit of the players. For example, the scoreboard may display a ranking of performance or remind players of the reward. By focusing on positive goals, players become more involved in the process of learning, evaluating or discovering the business.
Motivational processes encourage commitment and mobilise the attention of participants. The serious game uses different game levers such as juggling information, valuing scores to maintain motivation and optimal concentration.
A fun and less painful or daunting approach to skills development. The serious game appeals because of its originality, but also because of its cognitive process which facilitates the anchoring of knowledge and offers a positive employee experience which will certainly reinforce the company's employer brand.
2. The serious game boosts HR missions
Serious games can be used for a variety of purposes, the three main ones being the development of skills, recruitment and the integration of new employees. In the wake of the 100% telework on the French, the possibility of taking part in a digital serious game shows the organisation's open attitude and its interest in new ways of working. Knowing that a large proportion of French employees wish to continue teleworking on a part-time basis.
Recruitment: the power of a new process
The recruitment market has evolved rapidly, driven by online platforms and innovative methods, and employers need to take every opportunity to attract the best profiles, especially for shortage positions. In addition, Finding the right profile on paper must now be accompanied by behavioural complementarity. The recruitment process has to face this double challenge. For their part, candidates are looking at their opportunities more carefully. The questions raised by the health crisis and the time for reflection have made them more attentive to the terms of employment and the work environment.
The serious game fits perfectly into the distance learning culture developed over the last 20 months. It can be conducted remotely and sometimes asynchronously. For companies recruiting abroad, it can also be translated into different languages.
For the recruitment of junior profiles, the serious game allows a company that is not on their radar to catch their attention. Faced with the ineffectiveness of the traditional CV and cover letter application, companies with significant recruitment in this age group have jumped at the opportunity to update their approach by offering recruitment steps that can be carried out directly on a smartphone. In this way, the serious game helps to promote an innovative employer brand geared towards new uses.
Another value added, the serious game provides a more realistic assessment of candidates and aims to reduce the stress level of candidates by providing a expérience ludique. Through an immersive course, the participant is directly put into a situation, which allows recruiters to better discern his or her character traits and analyse his or her behaviour in certain situations. This is an effective recruitment tool for identifying the soft skills of a candidate, the serious game highlights stress management or the ability to quickly decipher a situation and make decisions. The situational mode of assessment also reduces the impact of cognitive biases on the selection of profiles, as it does not take into account the gender, age or origin of the candidate.
For the candidate, it is a way of anticipating the type of experience he or she will face in order to better to see the reality of the position for which they are applying. Along the way, the serious game can help to highlight the work environment, the role of each person and possibly the work processes that will be used on a daily basis.
Onboarding: getting to know each other through game-based learning
Efficient integration of new employees is a major challenge in recruitment, since this pivotal period in the employee experience can subsequently lead to departure or, on the contrary, to greater commitment. A serious game that supports the onboarding of an employee will accompany them in their first steps in the organisation and help them become familiar with cultural codes and understand the different parts of the organisation.
Through game mechanics, les nouveaux collaborateurs prennent leurs repères et adoptent une approche proactive devenant ainsi acteurs de leur intégration. For example, a contact-oriented serious game scenario can help shy people to approach others, ask questions and explore the premises as they progress through the game.
Training: combining learning and practice
Due to skills obsolescence, les efforts de formation en entreprise vont s’intensifier et faire davantage partie du quotidien des salariésThe serious game will then animate the learning process and make it part of the telework modalities. The serious game will then animate the learning process and make it part of the telework modalities. It will also make training more accessible to new categories of employees who are developing as a result of the health crisis, such as nomadic workers.
Through its unique and playful approach, the serious game facilitates the acquisition of informationThis is particularly true for processes related to complex situations. According to Belgian researcher Emilie Gaspard from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, active decision-making enhances our brain activity. This same mechanism is at work in a serious game and reinforces the learning of specific skills through almost immediate virtual practice of the new knowledge.
The serious game promotes the right to make mistakes, which is crucial in a training course. The game encourages trying sometimes unusual solutions, where few work situations offer this possibility. An important game mechanism is to provide a space for experimentation, inviting participants to exercise their creativity and sense of logic. It is about testing hypotheses that they build up with the help of the information given by the game. In the end, making mistakes is an accepted part of the game, as long as they are used to progress and achieve the objective of completing the game.
Finally, the digitisation of the serious game makes it possible to monitor the progress of learning in real time and to obtain measurable data. It offers more precise and immediate insights than a traditional training course. Aspects that need to be reviewed or repeated are highlighted and it is easy to target learning on weak points and topics that are struggling to be assimilated and makes the personnalisation de l’apprentissage more accessible. The frequency of the sessions, the levels to be repeated, the repetition of questions, these elements can be modulated according to the progress of the participant thus avoiding the frustration of an inadequate learning process.
Go further with soft skills
The serious game may also supporting a cultural and behavioural transformation of the organisation. If it is high time to establish healthier and more positive dynamics, the serious game played by teams stimulates interactions and reveals problematic functioning. Dealing with these behaviours in a virtual environment where it is possible to try again with a different approach shows employees that another way of doing things is possible and sometimes more appropriate. An escape game with predefined timing can help to improve communication, especially in situations under pressure. In another case, the game can help to resolve a situation where there are divergent opinions and help employees to better accept the ideas proposed by their peers.
Although the list of soft skills is long, here are some that are suitable for serious games:
- Empathy practised in collaborative work and membership of a group.
- Decision-making based on taking into account tous les éléments, la concertation et la capacité à trancher.
- Open-mindedness to consider alternative solutions and ways of thinking.
- Creativity in exploring new solutions and experimenting.
Anyway, the serious game can only keep its promise if all the players are involved in the process.
Reconnecting with the quest for meaning
In a more global and strategic way, the serious game allows you to explain your company's missions in a more meaningful way and to translate its values in a relevant way, moving from theory to practice. In this sense, it offers a response to the famous quest for meaning intensified by the health crisis. Through the serious game for recruitment, the candidate is immersed in the organisation's activities to get a better idea of the reality of the position and if these conditions motivate them. In the case of training, learning puts employability at the centre and reminds the employee of the reasons why he or she joined the organisation and chose the job. By immersing oneself in a virtual world, one becomes immersed in a bubble for the duration of the game, which can help to lower the barriers and everyday life stress. This timeless experience in a collective mode brings people together and invites them to reconnect after a period of isolation and regain a common sense.
3. Good practices for setting up a serious game
The preparation of a serious game must primarily integrate the evaluation objectives, learning objectives or loyalty objectives . It is therefore a question of asking yourself the right questions to help you develop the game's plot:
- What is the educational objective? What skills need to be learned first and which ones are secondary?
- What skills will be tested during the game? Is the level of digital skills of the participants appropriate? What digital tools do they have?
- How can serious games improve people' work life?
- What are some of the other benefits that may lead participants to play this game?
Rely on storytelling of the game. The principle of a serious game is that it should be memorable and make learning fun. An engaging design and writing will help to increase interest and therefore memorization with the help of meaningful situations such as a recurring customer case or crisis management.
Reducing resistance to serious games. The technology is accessible and the participation is flexible and volunteer-based, making it easy to get started with the game.
Communicate on the project. A number of communication actions are available to you. The presentation of the serious game must be similar to it. Why not make a quick video presentation that you can distribute in an email campaign or integrate into the company's career site. In the case of training, HR and managers must be sufficiently trained in the tool to answer employees' questions.
Be aware of the regulations on HR data. When taking part in a serious game, participants will have to provide a certain amount of information. In this context, the company must make sure that it explains to the candidates how the method works in relation to recruitment, ensures the confidentiality of the results and justifies the relevance of the game to their application. The information required should only concern the evaluation of the candidate's professional skills. Details of personal circumstances, political opinions, religion or trade union membership cannot be requested according to the CNIL and the provisions of Article L.1221-7 of the Labour Code. In the case of rejection of an application, the information must be processed according to the applicant's wishes: either deleted or saved for future application for a limited period of two years.
4. Examples of serious games
Now you are equipped to decide whether a serious game project would be beneficial for your organisation especially for human resources activities. Finally, we'll give you some examples of current practices to inspire you.
Reveal your potential "Harmonie Mutuelle"
As part of the transformation of the mutual insurance sector, which is undergoing strong digitalisation, Harmonie Mutuelle wanted to maintain employability through upskilling and supporting employees in new jobs in the sector. A second major issue was to be able to remain competitive against a new kind of competitor from the technological world, just like Amazon did by launching its mutual insurance offer in the United States.
The serious game is therefore part of this overall three-part approach which aims to enable employees to be more autonomous in their career paths and less dependent on their manager for their professional orientation. Launched as part of an event, the serious game invited employees to learn more about customers, their needs and the current state of the mutual insurance sector in the digital age.
The employee is better informed about his or her career development opportunities and deals more constructively with the self-service learning and skills assessment platforms made available under the programme. It is part of an HR project of which it is only one component, the serious game gives a boost to internal communication and talent management by HR.
Saint Gobain Brain simplifies onboarding
The serious game that combines AI is meant to strengthen the group's employer brand by introducing the company's culture and discover the challenges that the group is facing The game is based on three main themes: purchasing and marketing to different types of customers, research and development of tomorrow's transport, and supply chain professions. The game lasts 10 to 12 minutes and opens with a hunt for clues in three environments: the point of sale, the laboratory and the innovative factory. Artificial intelligence guides the player who will try to solve three riddles and fifteen challenges. The game is aimed primarily at young graduates and juniors and calls on the participant's soft skills (logic, agility, imagination, etc.).
The game also allows the player to raise funds for associations that Saint-Gobain supports. As the points counter rises, the player can unlock a donation to the Habitat for Humanity association in France.
The "Renault Academy"
The multinational automotive organisation has created a game that trains salespeople to master different types of sales talks and customer types. The game exists in more than twenty languages in online training and in face-to-face training.
"Save a life" introduces first aid
This interactive videohas been designed by a Belgium organisation to teach first aid to everyone. This is a quick and flexible way to train employees in first aid. Here, the combination of knowledge acquisition and the required speed of action equips the participants with the right reflexes to apply in a real situation.
Nanorider raises awareness of investment in innovation
The game Nanorider was developed by Grenoble Ecole de Management and Cea Leti in 2013 and aims to educate its players on the role of new technologies in business, even the most complex ones. In the form of a board game, the concept involves several players, each holding a title (financial management, marketing, legal director, etc.). The purpose is to make people understand that each choice to integrate innovation into the company is collective, despite the different imperatives of each stakeholder. Innovation then becomes a common issue for all in the sense that it brings solutions and values to all participants. A pragmatic proposal to get rid of preconceived ideas on innovation in the context of technological transformation, this game allows to go beyond the complexity of a new science to realise the importance of establishing a corporate culture open to innovation in order to sustain it.
With the promise of a playful moment, serious games provide a real tangible solution to the recruitment and skills development challenges in a rapidly changing workplace. By placing employees or candidates at the heart of a challenging situation using motivating game mechanisms and a structured course, the serious game offers an environment that encourages learning. It also creates the conditions for reflection on employability. All in all, serious games invite both employees and employers to position themselves and anticipate the future of work.