Thursday, July 5, 2007

Business Week: On the Job Gaming

Training Videogames are gaining popularity among major industry players, Business Week reports this week. Cold Stone Creamery Cold Stone Creamery recently commissioned a new videogame that they will use to help train their employees. The game teaches portion control and customer service in a cartoon-like simulation of a Cold Stone store. Players scoop cones against the clock and try to avoid serving too much ice cream. The company says more than 8,000 employees, or about 30% of the total, voluntarily downloaded the game in the first week. “It’s so much fun,” says 24-year-old Cold Stone employee Laura Holshouser.

The military has used video games as a training tool since the 1980s and now the practice is catching on with companies, too, ranging from Cold Stone to Cisco to Canon. Corporate trainers are betting that games’ interactivity and fun will hook young, media-savvy employees and help them grasp and retain sales, technical, and management skills.

The market for corporate training games is small but growing fast. Industry leaders estimate that such games make up 15% of the “serious” or nonentertainment market, which also includes educational and medical training products. Five-year estimates show the market for serious games more than doubling, to $100 million, with trainers accounting for nearly a third of that.
Companies like video games because they are cost effective. Instead of paying for someone to fly to a central training campus you can just put them in front of a computer. Plus, employees often play the games at home on their own time.

Games are especially well-suited to training technicians. In one used by Canon, repairmen must drag and drop parts into the right spot on a copier. Workers who played the game showed a 5% to 8% improvement in their training scores compared with older training techniques such as manuals.Please see the current Business Week for the full story.

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