Micheal Peck asks the following on the milgames list (see links area) and gets quite a varied response.
The question of “has there been a research effort to quantify how much better they are” might be addressed by some here. My direct experience with several “serious wargaming” projects is that despite the effectiveness, there is an inertia due to learning curve on the part of educators and students who are not gamers that makes this more of an “innovation diffusion” problem than an if they were really so effective they would be used a lot more”. If you have not read Everett Rogers seminal work “Diffusion of Innovations” I can’t recommend it highly enough. The 5th edition is available for Kindles.
Back to the questions – the questions that need to be answered in addition to the ones below include:
“How do I convince educational leadership to replace “legacy” classroom lecture time with “game time” in the negative sum curriculum game” (ie every new version of a curriculum these days is supposed to get sailors back to the fleet faster).
“How do i integrate embedded shipboard training with classroom “game training” to establish a “continuous learning environment” that keeps inertia after the student leaves the classroom? How does this integrate officer and enlisted training?”
“How do i convince the “metric heads” that educational experience can be derived from games that are not based on VV&A model stacks that has been millions in the making?”
How do i overcome the fundamental bias against gaming in the workplace as “not serious” even when everyone agrees it its beneficial? (We don’t have overhead to invest in “real” personnel development initiatives, let alone give the “perception of impropriety” associated with “playing games at work”.
These are the sort of cultural issue Rogers deals with in Diffusion of Innovation (in the negative case of – innovation will not Diffuse, even if obviously “better” if there are even modest cultural impediments.
When it comes to the effectiveness of serious games, most of the evidence I encounter seems to be anecdotal. The designer will tell me, “People liked it” or “Someone told me after the game that they learned more this way”.
I’m taking a look at this issue, and I’m curious about the current consensus regarding games in the defense arena. There has been a lot of hype and buzz about games. Assuming that games are cheaper and more convenient than other training methods (a questionable assumption?), it seems to me that games boil down to three possibilities:
1. They are less effective than other training methods for a given requirement, but their low cost and convenience makes them the superior option.
2. They are equal in effectiveness to other training methods, but their cost and convenience wins them the tie-breaker.
3. They are more effective than other methods, and they’re cheaper and more convenient. A triple crown.
And just for fun, let’s flip the question. When would you absolutely not use a game for training?
Training & Simulation Journal