A few years ago, people became excited about games because they felt their students were engaged and they seemed to be learning more, but there was no formal research. … We should continue to look at the potential, because it’s now proven that playful learning is both a way to make training more enjoyable and produces better results.’

One of the first media professionals to recognize the potential of serious games in eLearning, Sue Bohle is a pioneer and industry leader. She is executive director of the Serious Games Association and produces the Serious Play Conference, an annual gathering of thought leaders who share information and mentor eLearning professionals to advance the industry. I recently spoke with Sue about the tremendous growth and potential of serious games in corporate training and eLearning. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Pamela S. Hogle: Where’s the impetus coming from to bring serious games into corporate eLearning?

Sue Bohle: Serious games are moving toward adoption in all industries, and therefore every discipline of learning is looking at whether or not games can be used to make training more productive, more efficient, as well as more engaging.

In the corporate space, I would say that interest is coming from youth and new employees. They might be in almost any position within the company, but sales, marketing, or human resources are the main three entry points. They may have played games as a child, and they see how the challenges and reward system relates to learning anything. They may start talking about a topic within the company, and someone asks, “How did you learn all of that?” and they say, “It was from a game.” Traditional video games, like role-playing games—or World of Warcraft, for that matter—develop certain knowledge bases or skills that may bring a student who was not interested in school back to learning; another, more serious, young person may see that what they learned playing a game is applicable to their business life.

There’s some resistance—the higher-ups don’t yet understand the value, but some business professors think that the CEOs of the future should understand that a lot of future training will be done with games.

A really interesting application of serious games is to differentiate between young managers, trying to figure out which ones are really savvy and should be moved up in the organization, which ones are better strategists, and which ones are willing to take risks.