This morning at 5, one of my friends called me over phone. He started shouting “Bastion received a buff and Ana is nerfed, let’s play”. Sounds gibberish? Let me explain. Bastion and Ana are two characters from the famous multiplayer game “Overwatch”.
Now what does Buff and Nerf mean? Buff means making something more powerful while nerf is the opposite. Okay, why would some make the characters of a game more/less powerful after it is launched? Read through this blog post to understand this and some more things that explain why unlike our learners, players own up a game and contribute to making it a success.
Do you know that players participate in game development?
The design and development process for learning programs has evolved over time. We have many new methods coming in, making them agile and whatever to make it more effective for the learners. However, does the learner has a role to play in the development process? During the analysis phase, we try to collect some details about the learner such as their educational background, prior knowledge on the subject, ethnicity, computer literacy levels, etc., Based on this, we try to step in to the shoes of the learner and make assumptions on his behalf as to how the course should be.
Things are somewhat different when it comes to game development. The company is always in touch with the players around the world and the developers will be silent watchers for all the forums and social media communities where the players express their opinions about the previous games and put out their expectations clearly. This makes the company create something the players are looking forward to.I understand that comparing the huge volume of players with our learners might be little silly but there’s some inspiration to draw from this.
Conduct Pre-Training Surveys: Before you develop the training program, as a part of your need analysis, conduct a pre-training survey not with the stakeholders, but the learners. Make sure that you highlight the training goal as a part of the survey and then ask relevant questions that’ll help you understand the problems that they’re currently facing which you will try to align to the training objectives.
Sometimes, surveys don’t yield accurate results. You could create a forum/platform where the learners could share their opinions and problems that they face with regards to the subject you’re planning to train them. I’m currently working on a standard template for the survey, checkout this space soon to download one.
Playtesting is Just Not Enough:
A standard game-design process often emphasizes playtesting as a key step towards creating a bug-free game. Playtesting is the phase where the game-designer will be testing a new game for bugs and design flaws before it is launched in to the market. This is similar to the reviews we perform on our learning programs before deploying them. However, game companies employ another key strategy to improve the effectiveness of their games.
Conduct Closed Beta-Testing:
During the development of an e-learning course, we first develop a prototype that works close to the actual program and share it with our stakeholders for review. Here, game companies go for a different approach. Let’s say a studio is working on a new open world action game.
Months before the actual game is released in to the market, they complete the development of a small portion of the game (let’s say a small district out of the huge map with few missions) just like our prototype. They invite the players to participate in a closed-beta program with limited registrations. These players will have a chance to experience the game before anyone else and not just that.
By doing this, the studio will get to hear what the players feel about the game. The bugs they couldn’t catch, the improvements that they never have thought of, all these will be captured and you can see it implemented when the actual full-version of the game is released.
Share Prototype With Learners: Involving the learners during the development period could make things easy for us and help us help them better. I remember our conversations with clients where we had to many time use the phrase “It has been done this way to help the learner understand it better”. How about testing it with the leaner instead? If you could share the prototype with a limited learner group and ask for their first impressions, collect their feedback, and keep it in mind during the entire development process, it’ll save a lot of time for you as a learning designer and also the stakeholders who wouldn’t have to worry about the course being on the right track.
Post-Release Updates and DLCs:
I know we all have tried the “Let’s get the learner involved” phrase before and during development of the course and only get to hear NO from the client. Don’t worry, all is not lost.
Updates is one of the most commonly heard terms in players. I recently purchased a cricket game for PC. I started playing the game and realized that the controller I’m using often gets disconnected with the game. I received an update yesterday for the game which fixed that and many more minor issues with the game.
Back to E-learning: After deploying the course, we could provide them with a post-course feedback survey. Based on any concerns received from the learners, we could deploy an updated version of the course. Some might argue that if the course is already complete, how would an update help. This approach is helpful for returning learners and also for generic courses that will be used to train learners in batches.
DLC or Downloadable Content is another key strategy to bring back the players to the game. DLCs are additional content that is not released at the time of launch but sometime in the future. In a game, a DLC could usually be a new map, the story of a new character, a new mission, etc., When it comes to elearning, DLC could be any additional content you couldn’t add in the original course due to time constraints or it is a follow-up content that requires the learners to first master the course.
Lesson of the Day: No successful product has ever been created without the involvement of end users, why should learning be?