Can Training Games Improve Our Memory?

The act of forgetting is no strange occurrence as it happens to most of us on a daily basis. In fact, Hermann Ebbinghaus, a 19th century German psychologist, conducted a study on memory loss known as the Forgetting Curve. According to the Forgetting Curve, we forget information just a few days after learning it and within one month, 90% of the information we originally learned is forgotten.

So, when it comes to employee training, where the intake and retention of information is crucial to the success of the companies teaching it, how do we combat the Forgetting Curve? Studies show that training games are the answer to this question.

Games = Fun = Increase In Learning

According to Gabe Zichermann, founder of the creative agency Dopamine, when employers make their employees’ work more fun, the employees’ information retention and skills increase by up to 40%. For those wondering how to make work more fun, this is where games come into play.

Pop Quiz

Question: While training games can be inviting, easy to master and entertaining, do they enhance the learning experience or are they simply a waste of time? Answer: Training games have proven to enhance the learning experience and on-job performance.

In 2015, Chief Learning Officer Media executed a 12-month study with over 6,300 retail associates in U.S. and Canadian stores. Two different groups were formed. In the first group, training games were used to engage employees as part of the training. Employees played a game before they were asked to answer some training questions. In the second group, the game feature was removed and employees were just asked to answer some training questions.

The results of this study actively support the use of training games in employee learning programs. Specifically, the study found that:

  • Those who played the training game showed high learning engagement levels
  • Learners with games were more proactive in logging in more often for training compared to those who did not participate in the training games
  • Learners with games retained more correct training knowledge than those in the no-game condition and had longer correct-answer streaks

Training games arm companies with bite-sized play, points, badges, leaderboards and rewards. Studies show that short bursts and spaced-out training content can help individuals retain information more effectively. When people cram information they learn all at once, they forget what they learn quickly. However, if they learn information over an extended course of time for digestible snippets, they are able to increase their knowledge by up to 50% and strengthen their retention skills for up to two years.

Turning Pleasure Into Learning

Dr. Judy Willis, a California neurologist, found that when our classroom activities are fun, dopamine is released in our brains, giving us an additional sense of pleasure. Dopamine, after all, is the pleasure-giving chemical in the brain. More importantly, dopamine stimulates memory and can promote the release of acetylcholinem, which can increase our focused attention.

Companies no longer need to question if training games are useful. When individuals play games, they are being challenged, they’re accomplishing goals and they’re receiving rewards. All of these things can be exciting and pleasurable to users, which can ultimately contribute to the release of dopamine in the brain, improved comprehension and ultimately increased retention.

Find this article published at Forbes.com