Gamers, defined as individuals who play computer or video games, have developed new and distinctive learning capacities. From the advent of Atari to the modern-day PlayStation 4 and World of Warcraft eSport competitions, skills that gamers have been developing and honing have have also been shown to enhance capacity for learning acquisition, retention, and transfer. According to research done by the Pew Research Center, about half of American adults play video games. Therefore, as an instructional designers and training content creators, understanding the concepts of how gaming enhances learning is important to the success of a program as a number of employee learners most likely either have this undiscovered and untapped acumen or would be able to develop it should gaming be introduced into the learning repertoire.
Generally, video and computer games are designed so that players achieve a goal, whether it is to solve a puzzle, reach a new level, build something, or remain in the game against obstacles, hurdles, and interference. For learning, gaming is changing the ways in which we interact with our learning environments, as well as the skills for how we learn. The following are examples of how the skills learned while gaming can be applied to learning:
Multiple stimulus means better memory. The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is. This redundancy means students will have more opportunities to pull up all those related bits of data from their multiple storage areas in response to a single cue. This cross-referencing of data strengthens the data into something we've learned rather than just memorized.
Effective online training courses use strategies to help students recognize patterns and then make the connections required to process the new working memories so they can travel into the brain's long-term storage areas. (Willis 2006)
Furthermore, Dr. Rick Van Eck, an Instructional Design professor and expert in learning and gaming, shares his research on the benefits of gaming in education and learning design in his TEDxManitoba talk The Gaming of Educational Transformation. He believes that games revolutionize education by exposing students to the following experiences and concepts:
Gaming, while fun, challenging, collaborative, and addictive to some, also creates new capacities and beneficial skills that can exploited when creating learning solutions.