Using Game-Based Training Personas To Better Understand Your Employees

In 2020, there were an estimated 2.7 billion gamers across the globe; in the U.S., 66% of the population plays games. It’s not just for teenage boys – 17% of gamers are women ages 21 to 35. With so many people into gaming, over the past few years, many corporate educators have prioritized game-based training in the workplace.

Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents to one survey said they are happier at work because of game-based training. Games can make employees less stressed and more motivated, productive, and engaged.

What makes game-based training so effective? How can you use it? Let’s dive in.

Why Game-Based Training?

Game-based training is simply more fun than boring lectures. But there’s also more to it than that. In games, reactions can’t be faked. In the process, employees tend to reveal clues to their performance, work ethic, motivation, team cohesion, and personality.

Most revealing is personality. Game-based training shows how competitive, collaborative or ambitious employees are. An understanding of personality is crucial to teaching employees in a personalized way.

Let’s explore how personality drives game-based learning.

What Is an Employee Persona? 

Personas are created in the world of marketing to understand consumer behavior and create engagement strategies. Instead of looking at their entire audience homogenously, companies segment consumers into groups based on common traits, challenges, and desires. This helps personalize messaging to ensure it resonates with each persona.

Personas are equally important in the training world and can include factors such as:

  • Age group
  • Education
  • Tenure as an employee
  • Total years of experience
  • Career progression during the past year
  • Stated career goals
  • Peer feedback
  • Historical job changes
  • Career performance metrics
  • Workplace challenges

These details can be utilized to categorize employees.

Game-Based Training and The Four Personas

When designing game-based training, I always start with personas. While a personality is a specific person’s pattern of traits and behaviors, a persona is a generalized type of person and a simple way to cater to many needs. Based on Richard Bartle’s taxonomy of players, below are four types of players: socializers, explorers, achievers, and fighters.

Let’s examine each more closely.

1. Socializer

Socializers are people-oriented. They like interacting with people over their environment and value relationships, social status, and collaboration. I’ve defined three types of socializers:

  • Rockstars crave love and recognition. These people can put on a show and smile when you praise them for a job well done
  • Coaches need to be useful. They’re the helpers, mentors, and born leaders
  • Philanthropists find purpose in collaboration and giving gifts. The more they give, the more they feel given to

Socializers need collaborative games. Consider using a partner leading game where one employee is blindfolded and another gives them directions to a predetermined location.

2. Explorer

Explorers like interacting with their environment. They value adventure, novelty, discovery, and problem-solving.

  • Detectives enjoy solving problems. They’re the thinkers, puzzlers, and solution-finders
  • Navigators love discovering new horizons. Adventure is in their veins. Without a change of scenery, navigators easily get bored
  • Free spirits need to be unfettered. They’re creative and thrive on having the freedom to customize and choose their own path

Scavenger hunts, escape rooms, or branching path games are perfect for explorers. Include riddles for detectives, maps for navigators, and Easter eggs for free spirits.

3. Achiever

Achievers are known for performance. They like to be challenged, follow a purpose, and receive awards.

  • Experts strive for skill mastery. They expect to be at the top of the leaderboard and often tell others about what they know
  • Collectors focus on improving themselves. That may include upping their skills, but their focus is broader

Ideal games for achievers feature quests, levels, and a reward system. Let them be the hero of their own story.

4. Fighter

Fighters are highly competitive. While they all love winning, they can go one of two ways:

  • Competitors prefer to win fairly. Their joy comes from a fight well fought between evenly matched opponents
  • Terminators win any way they can. They’ll stop at nothing to beat their opponents. They don’t like losing

Fighters would enjoy sports or a “twitch-style” like our Jump game in The Training Arcade® game that tests reaction time.

Personalities First in Corporate Learning

When developing game-based training as a learning and development professional, training manager, or HR director, keep personas in mind — but always remember you’re training real people. Personas are simply generalizations that display a dominant personality trait. Best results are achieved when you know the real people you’re designing the training for.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member


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