Friday 3 July 2015

Cliff Dennett explains us what means for him : "Serious Game".

A series of interviews with experienced players and experts in human resources and organizational development. Here we ask the questions to  Cliff Dennett, the founder of Soshi Games  a serious games start-up in , Birmingham, UK.

MCE : So, you’re a big fan of serious games and their ability to change the mindsets  of the masses (your employees) and modify behaviour. Is that a good or a bad thing; are we in danger of crossing a border into the realms of interference from Big Brother?

Cliff Dennett (CD) : Any thoughts of Big Brother interference are really the domain of connecting technologies in general rather than games. People have already demonstrated their willingness to reveal their life antics to the world through the unparalleled take-up of Facebook and Twitter and also allow the stories of others on these networks to influence how they fell about the world and themselves.

For me, Serious Games are about combining what the gaming world has learnt over forty years about how to engage, with what the world of corporate IT has learnt about how to make processes efficient. If we can combine these, then the ROI from IT spend and employee satisfaction could be significantly improved.

MCE : And it is supposed to be immersive and FUN. Detractors say employees don’t come to work to have fun. Well, are they right or wrong?

 CD : My response is in danger of being a bit ‘head in the clouds’, fluffy and philosophical, but here we go anyway. Plato once said “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. Yet even from school, we are taught to segregate work from play; a bell goes and it’s time to start class and work, then another bell goes and it’s time to stop work and start to play. Then another bell goes and play stops, work starts again. Then we grow up and start work and play only happens in the evenings and weekends and workers all over the world can’t wait for their holidays to take a break from work.

It seems almost too obvious to say that surely if we are having fun doing something, that thing is done with more passion, enthusiasm and probably therefore better. More than this, because we enjoyed it, we want to do it again, rather than staring at the clock, waiting for home time.

I think we have got this work/play split wrong and believe that if people can have more fun when managers ask them to do things, they will do those things much better. It’s no more difficult than that!

MCE : Next generation in the workplace grew up with X-Box, Wii U and the rest with movie quality graphics. So is that what we’ll need to provide if we’re to get full acceptance from our employees. Won’t this mean the creation of a new industry with new talent needed to make it work?

CD : Some of the best selling and most engaging games do not have “movie quality” graphics. Of course there are the big, so called triple-A games which cost hundreds of millions of Euros and hundreds of people to make. I don’t believe though that this is what we need in Serious Games. If you are trying to simulate an earthquake and want a full 3D virtual reality experience to train aid workers, then the more realistic the better. However, most problems in organisations that I see are much more to do with; communication breakdown, hidden agendas, defensive behaviours, people lacking confidence (exacerbated by social media by the way), not being solutions focused and getting stuck in their own mental models of the world. These kinds of problems can be addressed through gaming and don’t necessitate fancy graphics. It does however need careful consideration to apply the correct types of gaming for the right kind of challenge and providing an immersive and enjoyable experience for the participants.

MCE : Learning “on the move” is possible. But, all we see on our daily commute is people looking at movies or listening to music. How do you break down the barrier and get people eager to learn new stuff from new sources?

CD : Learning is fantastic fun. People who aren’t academic enjoy learning new things, it’s just that many people don’t realize it until they accidentally do so. If you tell people “right now you are going to learn something” a lot of people will switch off (or switch their music on). If however you say to someone “can you come and help me with this problem” and together you are immersed in an engaging challenge, that encourages both of you to play to your strengths and be respectful to others, people will have fun and accidentally learn new things.

What is your opinion about this article? What does mean for You Serious Game? Do not hesitate to comment below. 

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