Playing games with certification: An idea whose time has come?

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Gamers are problem solvers at heart. They just solve problems that are a little out-of-the-ordinary, like jumping on a turtle’s head and then kicking its shell into an oncoming line of ambulatory mushrooms that are spoiling for a fight. The mushrooms go flying and the fight is averted. Problem solved! Even if you go into plumbing, however, you aren’t likely to encounter a corresponding scenario in real life. So all of those turtle-stomping frolics aren’t helping you learn anything useful, despite the theoretical model proposed by Gary Larson.

Victorious gamerOr perhaps there’s good reason to reconsider the value of all those hours spent huddled in front of a TV or PC monitor. In a blog post that appeared last week at the Training Industry website, Training Industry Magazine editorial director Michelle Eggleston argues that corporate training may soon be revolutionized by increased adoption of gamification, or using game thinking and game mechanics to promote problem solving and encourage learning. Playing games, the argument goes, makes us more creative and adaptable thinkers.

There’s already a thriving gamification trend in areas of business like marketing, or research and development. And there are more than a few corporations that already offer advanced game learning solutions. So it’s not entirely unlikely that gamification could gain a foothold in certification. Eggleston contends that research has demonstrated the effectiveness of gamification at motivating and encouraging learning, influencing behavior,  driving innovation, fortifying skills and acquiring knowledge. And while playing games is demonstrably popular among millennials, Eggleston says that adults are far from immune — a study released earlier this year found that the single largest game-playing demographic is women over the age of 40.

If it sounds a little far-fetched that games and game playing could gain a foothold in IT certification, it’s worth noting that there’s a gamification corporation, Innovation Games, that already offers a certification program. You can become a Certified Collaboration Architect (CCA) by taking advantage of training seminars in cities around the world. And there’s a popular quiz widget at GoCertify (to cite just one example) that helps visitors test their knowledge of OSI networking.

Certification candidates probably shouldn’t expect to encounter Super Oracle Bros., say, or maybe The Legend of Cloudera, the next time that they purchase a certification training bundle. It might not be too many more years, however, before games are commonplace certification learning tools.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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