The new frontiers of gaming and apps for mobile devices that make learning while playing easy.

Gamification  = the use of game thinking and game techniques in a real life context to help users in solving problems related to their job, study,…

On second thoughts, there’s nothing new in that. When we were kids Monopoly steered us towards capitalism as we learnt that many of the prices in the real estate market were the result of the geographical location of the property in question.
Then with the advent of videogames we saw that after just a few matches we were able to guide our Pac-Man to safety (while taking out as many ghosts as possible!).
We have seen our kids and grandkids learn the techniques of playing video games before they can even read or write, and in a quarter of the time that it took us. And we were twice as old!

Nowadays, with the increasingly widespread use of mobile technology, a game can keep us company during our lunch break or while travelling to work, thus becoming something that unites different generations.

But the potential that gamification has to expand our cognitive abilities has been demonstrated by many studies. Nolan Bushnell, video gamer since 1966 and founder of Atari, not to mention former employer of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, is convinced that this is the future of gaming. In actual fact, he is investing his experience and visionary skills in educational games and in anti-aging games, as it would seem that playing with certain types of video games slows the deterioration of the mental faculties in the elderly.

But this use of video games goes even further.

In some high risk areas it is essential to bear in mind a series of procedures and operations that need to be performed. Seeking to familiarise yourself in the field could certainly lead to fatal consequences. In aviation, for example, the importance of flight simulators in becoming familiar with handling an aircraft and its instrumentation is immediately obvious.
A trial-and-error approach in certain fields would be suicide, take, for instance, the operations in a nuclear power plant.

A good video game would be much better (possibly 3D) to allow operators to face situations in the field with the in-depth knowledge they have gained through simulation games.

Michael Platt from Lockheed Martin, claims that you should not train people until they do the right things, but until they stop doing the wrong things. So it is almost the same principle as video games, where you move up a level when you stop making mistakes. Industrial gaming is based on the same principal. Self-learning systems are created based on the game, where the individual can obtain instant feedback on his performance, thus going on to optimise it until obtaining “zero errors”.

Given the success of virtual approaches in increasing safety and speeding up learning, in the near future we will probably witness exponential expansion of these systems. Thanks to artificial intelligence applications and the detailed analyses made possible using tools for processing big data, simulations will become increasingly more accurate and games more targeted. Their impact on real life will be very high and they will allow us to learn real-life situations before they happen.

Basically: if you want to know real-life….get virtual!