Serious Games for Serious Corporate Impact

by Peter Gillis

There’s no doubt, interest in serious games is on the rise – and as a recognised international expert in the field, Lynda Donovan from Learnovate was invited to speak at the Serious Play Conference ( held in Los Angeles last week.

Building on work from an earlier Learnovate research project (see, Lynda delivered her ideas on the subject of ‘Serious Games for Serious Corporate Impact’.

These are exciting times: interest in serious games as innovative vehicles for delivering and assessing corporate training is continuing to grow.  Adoption is currently running at around 20%, and there is a perception of disruptive innovation surrounding the use of serious games for training.

The big issue is: how to appropriately design, leverage and integrate serious games into existing learning management technology infrastructures.  Combine that with a desire to see hard evidence of business impact before committing and we get some insight into why those adoption rates aren’t higher.

There is a body of research evidence to support the effectiveness of serious games for learning, but corporates are looking for tangible business impact evidence such as improvements to training efficiencies.  Through her work in Learnovate, Lynda is working to provide the hard evidence.  The Learnovate model is unique – by  working in collaboration with its industry partners to trial its technology demonstrators, it’s possible to evaluate not only their learning effectiveness but also their business impact.

For serious games, this is made possible by combining new assessment methods with immersive learning environments such as virtual worlds.  For example, with the iLearn project (, it is possible to use big data techniques to gather and analyse user behaviour in real time from a virtual learning environment.  The models underpinning iLearn are flexible and can be applied in multiple contexts: from assessing 21st Century Skills in K-12 through to identifying core competences in a corporate onboarding exercise.

The potential for serious games was obvious in many of the sessions at last week’s conference.  David Smith of Lockheed Martin presented The Virtual World Framework, an open source framework for developing collaborative training environments via next generation web technologies. The platform is designed to support the quick development and deployment of high quality, interactive 3D environments.

VirBELA is developing and piloting virtual world technology for the development of complex skills such as leadership skills. Undoubtedly, serious games have enormous potential for corporate training but barriers to adoption need to be overcome such as availability of business impact evidence, intuitive authoring tools, game engines which can be easily layered over or integrated into legacy LMSs and an availability of learning designers with games development skills.

No doubt, serious games have enormous potential for corporate training.  However, there are still siginificant barriers to adoption: cost; availability of business impact evidence; intuitive authoring tools; game engines which can be easily layered over or integrated into legacy LMSs and the availability of learning designers with games development skills.  Opportunity, anyone?

You can watch Lynda’s presentation at