Video games show promise as training, recruiting tools

It's no secret that businesses reach beyond PR to productively communicate with consumers. Now, companies are braving new-media waters to engage employees, as well, with blogs, podcasts... and video games.

It's no secret that businesses reach beyond PR to productively communicate with consumers. Now, companies are braving new-media waters to engage employees, as well, with blogs, podcasts... and video games.

“They’re really only just starting to come into the market [as] a strategy,” says Mike Duarte, digital technologist at Maples Communications’ Digital Media Group. But as interactive solutions become more integrated into the PR mix, he says, companies will rely more on video games to deliver employee-training messages.

Conventional corporate training programs, with PowerPoint slides and interminable break-out sessions, are “very linear and not very exciting,” Duarte says, while video-game training “captivates employees and, ultimately, saves money,” he notes.

“Corporate America is just waking up to using video games,” says Joe Biglin, founder and CEO of TrainingPort Strategies, a corporate-game consultancy. So, Biglin adds, there’s still “a disconnect between what video-game companies produce and what corporations are expecting,” especially in cost, turnaround time, and ROI.

However, “the mindset is rapidly changing,” he notes.

There is “undeniable change” in the learning profile of America’s up-and-coming work force, says Jim Wexler, EVP of marketing at BrandGames. “They [grew] up in a consumer-centric, interactive world,” he notes. “They have different expectations for ways to get information.”

This learning language barrier is evident to employers struggling to attract young talent. But by using video games in recruiting, they can immerse potential employees in business missions and values, creating relevant brand connections.

While it may not be obvious to employees, the corporate video-game trend is ultimately about engagement. That, Wexler says, is really just an extension of PR.

“Ideas driven by corporate messaging, turned into media content for a consuming audience,” he explains. “It comes down to helping companies articulate their brand story and communicate it effectively.”

Key points:

Video games can serve as engaging, cost-effective tools for corporate training or recruitment

It’s a new strategy, so much disconnect still exists between request and reality

Communications-driven video games are new-media extensions of classic PR

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