Are Game-Based Virtual Simulations the Future of Online Training?

Imagine this: you’re a Human Resources Manager for a small company and you’re tasked with providing required sexual harassment training for 85 employees. You hear about a company creating game-based, virtual simulation courses in lieu of traditional in-person training. What do you do? A) Stick with the old training and hope your employees absorb and retain the information or B) Try out the new virtual simulation training course and see if your employees learn better through participation in a world of virtual choices and consequences.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in this very scenario, or maybe you’ll soon be required to take a new type of online training course, but you may be interested to learn how one company is changing the face of online training. Slate Magazine recently reported that WILL Interactive, a training course production company, uses stories, film, and video games to create engaging simulations that present content in fresh and thought-provoking ways. WILL Interactive courses, available from OpenSesame, cover diverse topics ranging from a two-part film series on Sexual Harassment, “Common Ground,” to “Ethical Decision Making for Professional Engineers.”

Why are WILL’s training courses so unique? According to their website, WILL calls their patented simulations “VEILS,” or “Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulations” which allow users to “make real-life decisions, take real-life risks, and experience the real-life consequences,” all from “the safety of cyberspace.”

With VEILS, users become characters facing ethical dilemmas in the workplace. In “Common Ground,” you act as Jennifer Brown, a young employee at a roller coaster company, who must decide the proper course of action as she encounters sexual harassment in her workplace. As Jessica, do you confront the harasser yourself? Talk to HR? Ignore the problem? It’s up to you, and the choose-your-own-adventure-inspired simulation plays out each scenario until the best course of action is revealed, helping viewers see the direct consequences of each option.

So, how effectively do these game-based courses actually train users? According to Slate, WILL’s VEILS have been proven to provide thorough training and even save lives. Slate reports that after presenting a 2009 military simulation video designed to help soldiers dealing with suicidal tendencies, suicide rates decreased 60 percent among training participants over the following nine months. WILL’s clients now include all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the NFL, and thousands of schools, colleges, and universities.

WILL’s videos tell stories through the medium of film; their simulations include a well-acted cast of characters, detailed sets, and believable dialogue to leverage film and video game-inspired content so viewers stay engaged and interested. While VEILS are patented by WILL, game and story-based learning can enhance online training help by helping users connect personally to the information. From the comfort of a computer, users can safely play out scenarios that may have harsher consequences in the real world, and learn the best course of action in the process. Do you think this is the future of online training? Try out a WILL course from OpenSesame and you decide!