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5 Characteristics of Training Games

Posted by Jeff Welch on 2/3/14 3:00 AM
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Imagine facilitating an activity that reinforces learning while energizing your participants as well as promoting engagement and social interaction. That activity likely exists in your facilitator’s toolkit in the form of a training-related game.


In addition to engagement and interaction, games can be used to either present new training content or reinforce/review content that’s already been taught.


Clear Learning Goal

The learning goal is what you want the participants to take away from the game in terms of the skill and/or knowledge that is presented or practiced.

As a facilitator, I always make an extra effort to let my participants know why they are playing the game. I typically stress this learning goal either orally, in written format, or both.


Set of Rules

So anarchy doesn’t occur, I recommend your game be structured with a set of rules. The rules should address issues such as how the game will be played, how the teams will be organized, the time allotment, and the scoring system.

Lastly, if you address the rules, it’s up to you, as the facilitator, to follow and enforce the rules. If the rules are not followed or if they are modified mid-game, the game participants are sent mixed messages. You’ll find they might even become irritated if they are on the team that doesn’t benefit from the “bending” of the rules.


Element of Competition

Some might argue that an element of competition can be a bit risky in a training environment. However, if approached the right way, competition – especially in the form of a game – can actually increase the cohesiveness of the training participants.

Two guidelines for addressing competition in a game include:

  • Present the competition with a sense of fun.
  • Set up the competition between groups rather than individuals. Obviously, there will be a winning team and losing team(s), however, if the game has achieved its learning goal, all participants will win because learning will have taken place.


Definite Outcome

The outcome of the game should determine the winners, losers, and the payoffs. In addition to increased knowledge or skill, the payoffs could be a relatively trivial prize; I’ve used candy, applause, and the winner’s first choice of refreshments at a scheduled break.


Element of Fun

Why play a game if your participants are not going to have fun in addition to learning? Games should include an element of enjoyment that comes from participation in the activity. Not only will there be joy and laughter among the participants, but countless studies have shown that rates of retention increase when a person is having fun while learning.


If you want to learn how to select, design, and facilitate games that boost the fun factor while maximizing learning, check out our eBook, Games in Training.


Hopefully I’ve inspired you to break out the Bingo cards or Jeopardy! questions in your next training session. You and your learners might be pleasantly surprised at how fun learning can be when it’s done in the form of a game. Best of luck!

Jeff has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Western Kentucky University. Before pursuing his passion for training, Jeff worked as a television reporter, flight attendant, fitness instructor, and tour guide. Jeff started his career in training at the daily newspaper in Atlanta. Training seemed to be a natural fit for him since he’s always been a bit of a performer. When at home, you’ll catch Jeff watching a cooking show, recreating a dish he’s eaten abroad, or exploring one of the many great restaurants in the Chicago area. During the summer months, he hits the road to follow the talented drum corps of Drum Corp International—something he’s done since high school!

Tags: instructor-led training, instructional design

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