Video Games Create a New, Richer Learning Experience

Hilton's Ultimate Team PlayThe concept of video game-based learning is gaining ground all over the world. Whether it is for surgeons in training, or to assist younger students in developing their grasp of math and science, this method is increasingly used to create a richer learning experience and to put the power in the students’ hands.

One recent example comes from IBM which has developed a serious video game titled Innov8. The game is currently used by more than 300 business students at San Francisco State University, San Jose State University and the University of Southern California to teach Business Process Management, a field of information technology.

Innov8 recreates real-world business challenges using a video game environment to facilitate understanding between business leaders and IT teams in an organization. Sam Gill, professor of information systems at San Francisco State University is one of the educators currently using the game to raise interest in his students. Read More...

“Normally students go to McDonalds and see how they sell a burger,” says Gill, in a news blog. But now, through this interactive tool, students can learn more because they get to ask questions of the business’s executives, in this virtual world. Even if these are only computerized characters who only know how to answer a handful of questions, it is better than watching a fry cook flip burgers, believes Gill.

The approach seems to take flight. “Students today are not like me,” says Gill. “Gaming is a big thing to them. Students can relate better to material if I’m not standing in front of them… My generation finds it hard to relate to because we think it’s just a game. But when you get past the game part of it, you’re left with a more engaging way to study problems.”

"In a fast paced, globally-integrated business world, IT skills are important for a wide range of graduates around the world… This is why it is crucial for academia and the industry to work together to get these skills into the classroom," said Kenneth Louden, professor and chair of the computer science department at San Jose State University, in a news release.

Gaming while on the clock

This week, the Hilton Garden Inn announced that it would provide a video game training tool to its staff to improve their interactions with hotel guests and overall quality of service in their hotels. The interactive game titled Ultimate Team Play, designed by serious games developer Virtual Heroes, is a graphically-intense, 3D, first-person video game that creates immersive player experience.

This innovative training method will also be used in recruiting next-generation team members whose lives are already largely integrated in technology, the Internet and video games. The game plays on the PlayStation Portable.

"Ultimate Team Play is part of our ongoing commitment to making employee training compelling and relevant, which are our two most important criteria for ensuring long-term customer service success," said Adrian Kurre, senior vice president -- brand management for Hilton Garden Inn, via news release.

The game puts team members in virtual Hilton Garden Inn hotel where they must respond to a number of different guest-related requests by a specific deadline. The appropriateness, level and speed of their response directly affect the simulated guest's satisfaction.

The full game is set for release in all Hilton Garden Inn locations in January 2009 and will include training for housekeeping, food and beverage, engineering/maintenance as well as front desk management positions.

As many businesses and teaching establishments get with the times and realize the unlimited potential of video game education and training, we are likely to see many more examples like this sprout up across the globe.