Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Doubtful he was thinking of games when he said it—especially gaming to train corporate staff. Yet, gamification in corporate America has raised the bar on job performance and, arguably, brain development.
Current expectations for corporate gaming suggest games avoid employee detachment, boredom, and apathy while they assist in boosting engagement, improving productivity, and motivation. All positives, to be sure.
Further distinct advantages to employee gaming include:
- Quicker onboarding and mastery of skills
- Better retention of information
- Greater accuracy and improved productivity
- Promotion of team-based behaviors
- Buy-in toward achievement of goals
- Socialization and comradery
But how long do the results last before another round of gaming is needed? Like addictions, are the times between gamification fixes growing shorter? Is training activity equal to successful training?
When profit and return on investment (ROI) are stakeholder’s objectives, gaming’s enterprise-wide benefits seem worthwhile. Still many experts in neuroscience, neurophysiology and psychology argue against gaming due to unhealthy changes shown as understated effects in the brain with corresponding changed behaviors.
Repetitive Actions and the Brain
Well-designed games can have positive and negative consequences.
While playing, the game offers punishments and reinforcements in a continued practice that preconditions players and helps them transfer learned skills or knowledge to the real world. Therefore, due to immediate feedback, players develop a strengthening of brain-cell connections (or synapses) believed to underlie memory and learning.
So, it follows that players appear to exhibit behaviors both positive and benign.
However, disparate properties emerge when psychologists and neuroscientists delve deeper into gaming’s effects on the brain. Their findings show many subtle consequences, such as desensitization to violence, attention problems, cognitive issues, and tendency toward obesity.
Neurophysiology studies how the brain works regarding our attention, brain speed, memory, people skills, navigation, and intelligence. Experts such as neurophysiologists and psychologists have published more than 100 papers on gaming and its effects on the brain.
Pro-gamers say games improve the brain’s fitness; they believe games are meant to sharpen the mind. As with any tools, choosing wisely matters most.
An employee with a sharp mind is definitely desired by corporations. Moreover, while brain fitness is of concern to an aging population that is living longer, it is also pertinent to individuals who suffer from chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis, and to those who are recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injury, or posttraumatic stress disorder.