You’ve read about game-based training.
You know the benefits.
Now, you’re ready to take the plunge and try it out at your organization.
First step? Finding the best vendor for the job.
Choosing a game-based training vendor can feel overwhelming. There’s ton of companies out there, and unfortunately not all of them are doing stellar work.
Luckily, there are some general qualities most great game-based training vendors share. Here are 8 things to look for in a game-based training vendor.
1. Do they specialize in game-based training?
Take a look at what the vendor offers. Is game-based training their focus? Or is it just “tacked on” to their regular offering?
Game-based training takes time to master. Be wary of companies who offer it alongside other eLearning services; their games will likely be mediocre, at best. You want something that truly engages your employees and accomplishes your learning objectives — not a half-baked solution.
2. Are their programs custom or SaaS?
Custom solutions are great for larger scale projects, or training for a specific challenge. That’s because the vendor will be able to design your program around your learning objectives, so that every aspect of it works toward achieving your goals.
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, or are testing game-based training on a small project, a SaaS solution can be a good option. Just be sure to find out how much of the solution you can customize. For example, are you able to integrate your branding, or are you stuck with the training vendor’s graphics?
3. How available are they?
This is an important aspect that many people forget. Once you decide to go with your vendor, what kind of support options do they offer you? Will they be a phone call away, or will you have to send a message to their tech team and hope for a timely response? Will you have a dedicated account manager, or have to wait in a queue for customer service?
You want to make sure you can contact your vendor easily if you run into a technical problem or need some advice on implementing your program.
4. Are they a full service shop?
Do they offer content development as well as tech? Support and hosting as well as game development?
Depending on your needs, it’s often easier to find a shop that’ll take care of the whole shebang — from writing content, to developing games, to support and reporting. Otherwise you end up taking on a lot of that work, instead of focusing on running and promoting your program.
5. What kind of analytics do they provide?
Being able to prove your training is working is crucial. Many training programs now come with “big data analytics” — but what that means isn’t always consistent across vendors.
Find out what you’ll be able to measure. Will it be standard pass or fail, or will you be able to track real learning, progress, and knowledge gaps?
Is the data easy to digest and export if necessary? Having a ton of data isn’t helpful if you can’t understand and analyse it. Make sure your vendor has an easy-to-use interface for analysing training results.
6. Can you host it on the cloud or do you need to use your LMS?
This one sounds a bit backwards right? Why would you want training that doesn’t use your LMS?
Well if you’re like most organizations, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your LMS. Something we hear all the time is “it was really expensive, so management doesn’t want to get rid of it… but our employees hate it.” And the unfortunate truth is hosting your new training within your LMS can give it a bad reputation before it even launches.
A vendor that hosts your training on a fun cloud based platform can give your program a fresh new face — improving both the quality of the content (because you’re not shackled by SCORM) and making training more compelling for employees, because it’s NOT hosted in your (boring) LMS.
7. Are their games fun?
This one seems pretty obvious, right? But it’s actually one of the most important qualities to look for in a game-based training vendor.
Take an honest look at the games they show you. Do they look fun? Would you want to play them?
Don’t get caught up in the hype. There are a TON of terrible gamification companies out there masquerading as game-based training.
Avoid companies who only talk about badges or leaderboards. Look for content that is actually integrated into a game, and that you’d honestly want to play.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a game-based training vendor can feel a bit overwhelming. There are a ton of companies out there, and (unfortunately) a ton of less-than-great training programs.
Look for companies who specialize in game-based training, that know the difference between lame-ification and real game-based training, and who will be there to help you along the way.