Imagine an Angry Birds for teaching sales training. Or a Super Mario Bros. for employee on-boarding. The Sims for sexual harassment compliance training.
(OK, maybe not the last one.)
GameDesk, a Southern California start-up that just cashed a big $3.8 million donation check from AT&T, is making these come to life. Well, sort of. The nonprofit, which started at USC, focuses on "gamifying" education by conceiving of, designing, and producing video games that incorporate academics. Think flight simulators that teach geometry.
The project is aimed mostly toward at-risk high school students, who, GameDesk says, have shown great advances in math skills by using their games. But the trend toward transforming traditionally classroom-bound learning subjects by introducing game elements (points, levels, competition) is certainly broader than just primary school. Many corporate training departments are coming up with new ways to jazz up once-dull learning programs through this kind of "gamification" — putting sugar on their vegetables.
And while adding "leader boards" to training initiatives like new-hire on-boarding is certainly interesting, it sure isn't the same as a race-car video game. Will GameDesk decide to eventually "gamify" leadership training? We can only hope so …
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