Simulations and Simulation Games are NOT the Same and Here’s WHY

Simulations and Simulation Games are NOT the Same and Here’s WHY

Simulations and Simulation Games are NOT the Same and Here’s WHY

Gamification is a growing trend in several contexts, especially training. Many big players in the industry have set gamification as their mantra to align their workforce with their goals. Be it the gamification of work or gamification of training, the core elements that form the base of this remarkable trend are the same. But some of us are hesitant to adopt this trend as it can seem an alien concept, especially if your familiarity with the concept of games has been almost zero. There are several types of games and each works out differently when applied to different types of training. In this blog post, we will look at one of the oldest and effective game type which is simulation games.

Simulation Games predate Gamification:

It is very recently that we all got to hear the terms gamification or game-based learning with actual applications being discussed. But simulation games are the earliest examples of game-based training, they existed even before the concept of gamification was conceived. Simulation based training has been widely in use in aviation and military trainings. Working in a simulated environment proves to be risk-free and cost-effective. The concept of simulation has very close relationship with videogames as most of the games are usually but a virtual representation of the real environment. For example, if you take Fifa or Madden, they are simulated versions created to closely replicate the physical version of the sport.

Coming to corporate training, simulation games can be used to train employees on the new software or tool they need to use. Most of us are familiar with the traditional Watch-Try-Do approach followed in software simulation training. A simulation game follows a similar approach but demands including game mechanics in the picture to make it more effective. Game elements such as story, time, and challenge boost the learners’ attention towards the game to a great extent.

Let’s now see how we can include the above mentioned 3 elements in simulations.

1. Everyone loves stories and so do your learners:

Instead of directly showing them how to use the tool in the Watch stage, begin with a story followed by a challenge. Say, “you are working as a XYZ in the company ABC. One of the clients has come up with a special request to modify certain parameters in the tool and your boss has asked you to take the responsibility of fulfilling this requirement”. Beginning with a story like this provides a meaningful context to the learner on why he needs to take this training. This emotional bonding makes him participate in the training with more attentiveness.

2. From Watch-Try-Do to Try-Try-Solve (Challenge is the key):

Moving on to the challenge part, in games it is not necessary for the player to take a linear path. In some games, the player is first placed directly in the arena and asked to try out different things. For example, if you take the game Fifa, when you begin a new game, initially you will be placed in the playground with the ball, without any tutorials and instructions. Players will learn all the tips and tricks during this try-out period.

You can apply the same strategy in your software simulation scenario. Instead of beginning with a Watch phase, you can start with a try-out phase where you ask the learner to start solving a specific challenge using his current knowledge or common sense (modifying the parameters according to client requirement in our scenario). Depending on his choices, you can slowly bring in the instructions on the right way to go forward.

 Let’s visualize the differences between the two concepts. In a watch-try-do scenario, your learner has to first witness how to use the software in a lengthy procedure of 10-20 steps. Whereas in our game, he will be prompted about the steps at regular intervals, that too only if he goes wrong. Eventually the learner will complete the game, learning how to use the software. Interesting, isn’t it? This is what games offer.

3. What’s In It For Me? Meet the reward-crazy learners

Everybody craves recognition. The Human race has evolved to a stage where for every small task we do, be it for our own good, we expect recognition. The word “Thanks” has lost its significance due to its heavy usage. People expect something more than that. So your “Thank you for completing this course” statement doesn’t work anymore. There’s no need to panic, gamification comes to your rescue in this regard. Remember our initial story of the client asking for a special requirement which is forwarded to our player/learner from his boss? A story is nothing without an ending, and in the end, the Hero wins the treasure. Well, we’re not asking you to actually pay your learner for completing the task, but let’s offer him some digital rewards for doing it the right way.

Remember, rewards play a major role in keeping the curve of interest of your learners in the course at an all-time high, but only as long as they are relevant. You can’t develop a course for pharma sales guys and then reward them with silver or gold medals as that is something which doesn’t happen in real life. They’re not Olympic athletes, are they? If we take a look at our scenario, we are talking about a regular employee being assigned a task by his boss. So our reward structure should be realistic such as the boss gifting him a check for a small amount since the client is happy with the service. If this doesn’t sound realistic, we can at least change our “Thank You” page as a thank you mail from the Boss to the employee for having completed the task.


It’s game-over time. We’ve seen a few ideas on how simulation training can be made extremely engaging using the basic components of games. Serious games are a growing trend and it is the time to make this shift, else we will soon be a part of the outdated training community. Gamification is a boon for companies that prioritize providing performance support to their employees. What are the challenges you’ve faced while training your employees on new software? Are you stuck with how to go about using games in your training? Reach out to us today for a customized game-based training delivered to revolutionize the way your employees learn.

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