Video Games – The high engagement transformation delivery system

Video Games – The high engagement transformation delivery system

Your Brain on Games.  

Our brains are designed to pay more attention to emotionally charged situations. We  are drama addicts in one form or another. In this way daytime TV is no different than  mixed martial arts or the latest Twilight movie. Our brains are designed to enter into a  heightened state of observation when we are engaged.  

Neuroscientists define engagement as “a sense of immersion in an experience,  generated by feelings of personal relevance”. In this heightened state we find increased  long term memory encoding. Experiences that are engaging, dramatic and eventful are  clearly a powerful tool in causing change in the brain. 

It is no new news that computer games produce high engagement over extended  periods of time. Brain-imaging studies show us that the brain cannot tell the difference  between “real life” and a games “simulated life”, as the same areas of the brain light up  for both virtual and real experience. 

Playing games puts the brain in the highly receptive state that is necessary to cause  change. The problem with most games to date is that they aren’t designed to change  the brain at all. The only outcome that game designers want to cause is to keep you  playing the game so that they can make more money. 

Hormones at Play. 

Games tend big systems of challenge and reward. Success in these games is metered out  in small rewards moment by moment and in occasional big rewards, like finishing a  level. Each of these rewards triggers the dopamine response. The brain adapts and gets  better at producing the actions that result in the reward. Dopamine is king.  

The rise of the social game has shown us that games that produce oxytocin can be  highly successful as well. Games like Farmville offer very little in the way of traditional  game play. What they do offer is a way to share play with others in your social network.  You can even help out on a friend’s farm. Helping out or sending progress updates all  produce the oxytocin hit. Once again this is being done only to cause the player to play  more.

Deep Practice: Using Video Games to transform Behavior. 

The question now is what results can be achieved in terms of changing the brain and  creating lasting behavior shifts by using the same game design practices that make  people wanting to play more, however, with the ultimate goal of creating game  experiences that help people improve their skills and behavior – or in other words, using  games for learning and behavior change rather than entertainment alone. 

The answer to this is deep practice. Deep practice takes place over a longer period of  time and it gives the players access to being something and actually experiencing  something in a simulated environment rather than merely reading or learning about it.  Simulation type video games offer a safe environment for players and they can learn by  doing. For example, video games give players the experience of being a leader and  exercise leadership principles in practice rather than mere ideas about leadership. 

At Ncite we are using games as deep practice experiences to help players convert game experiences into real life capacity.