Game-based learning compliance requirement

Project Background

Working back in the insurance industry, one of my annual projects was to take one of our annual compliance courses and re-design it for a new compliance refresher activity. Annual compliance training is not new, and it is often met with resistance. The topics are familiar to people and the subject matter has often been covered many times over. Not wanting to deliver the same old information slides, intermixed with scenarios, and the traditional assessment built into the end, I trawled through eLearn examples offered through the E-Learning Heroes Community, trying to find a new way of delivering repetitive content.

I was inspired to try something a little different which would allow me to up the fun factor with a game, while incorporating a little bit of the real world with scenarios that allowed learners to make choices.

How did it work?

The game itself was designed around real world scenarios that represented the NZ Privacy Principles. For each scenario, learners were asked if a potential breach had been found, or if privacy was upheld. The game took approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete. If the learner achieved 80% then no further action was required. If they didn’t achieve this, then they were re-directed to a 20 minute eLearning course to revisit the principles once more.

How did the learners feel about the new game?

As I had made a significant change to the learning design, I was interested to see how learners felt about the experience. Certainly the uptake in the course was clearly positive by the number of attempts we recorded in the first week when compared to the previous traditional approaches. Normally our uptake would be around the 30% mark, which required chasing people up during reporting. The news of the game, and how easy it was to complete had our uptake jump up to 60% within the first week.

Using the first level of Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model to analyse the effectiveness and impact of the game, where I created a questionnaire to establish how learners reacted to the training, 90% of trainees felt the training was worth their time; and 88% thought it was successful. A number of the comments were supportive, stating that they appreciated the opportunity to apply their existing knowledge to scenarios without having to complete a traditional eLearn on a topic they were already familiar with. A few people did state they felt that their area of the business hadn’t been as represented in the scenarios, and they felt it difficult to apply the scenarios without fully understanding the context. While you cannot please everyone, the learning here for myself as a learning designer will be to try and create more personalisation in training, or at the very least to create more generic scenarios where learners can see how scenarios apply to them in their own roles.

So what were the benefits for management?

The total number of people who passed the activity was 77%, which illustrated that the scenarios were challenging enough. By introducing the game approach on a subject people were very familiar with, we reduced the amount of time in training. If I had used the traditional approach, the total training time for the organisation would have resulted in 53 hours. With 77% of learners passing the game, the total training time for the organisation dropped to 38 hours.



Game-based Learning and Model in one

Project Background

My biggest challenge this year is to work on a Zero Harm initiative in the construction industry. Using bow-tie analysis, several critical risks were identified. One of these was working in an around Underground Services (cables, pipes etc.). Within New Zealand it is believed that though there is an increased awareness with new guides being published to make people aware of the issues associated with Underground Services, there seems to be a lack of training courses. It was decided that the company would need to develop this in house.

With potentially a few hundred people to train nation-wide and the dangers associated with dealing with Underground Services, we couldn’t very well have people digging in a real life situation. So we needed to come up with an idea that would allow people to experience a simulation similar to the realities they work with on site.

How does the model work?

I am lucky these days to work within a fairly large team, who love nothing more than collaborating on ideas to make them better, smarter, innovative and best of all fun. What started was an idea to re-create the well known Operation game by Hasbro, was further developed into a life like representation of what is like out there underground. As you can see the model represents a road corridor, with known services indicators, from the green distribution box which suggests some serious voltage, to overhead services and even indicators that sewer mains and water mains are nearby.

When you pull away the layers we show a fairly good representation of what services underground actually look like. For people new to construction the model highlights that what you see above ground is not a true representation of the mess that can occur underneath.

What about the game?

The actual game part of the simulation is the challenge to go ahead and dig in the berm of the corridor for whatever reason that you might need to, for example you might be planting a new tree, or perhaps even about to run a new culvert across the road. Now with the hazard identification complete, we want you to go ahead and dig, just make sure you are being “aware” of possible services. The idea is that learners dig, those with experience a lot more cautiously, and the spade eventually hits a 11KVA cable. In real life, the worker could die or suffer extreme injuries. In the model, however, the worse that will happen is a sudden sound (not to dissimilar from Operation) and the game lights up.


What was my role?

I wish I could take ownership for the game, but sadly I am not clever enough on my own to have put the actual model together. For this we relied on a clever electrical graduate who was on light duties and available to help. Aside from helping to co-design the concept, the rest of the credit needs to go to my very clever colleagues in the Talent, Learning and Development Team.

Game-based Learning

Project Background

One of my internal customers had hired a number of new starters in his client services team with very little customer service experience. Additionally he also had a number of people whom he felt could benefit from some up skilling. He wanted a full course developed internally at low cost. The company had no existing course material on the subject, however they did have some innovative subject matter experts in customer service, so a team was put together to develop an eight week course.

Course Features

The course itself had many features, but for this blog, I am going to be highlighting one in particular; an exercise we created for dealing with difficult customers using game-based learning delivered within the classroom.

Generally, game-based learning is designed to balance a subject matter with gameplay, and the ability of the learner to then apply what they have learnt back to the real world. According to (McGonigal 2011), games have four key ingredients.(McGonigal 2011)

  1. Goal – a game has to have a desired outcome that everyone is working to accomplish.
  2. Rules – in order to achieve the goal there has to be some parameters put into place that eliminate or make it difficult to achieve the goal.
  3. Feedback system – this is a process where the player knows where they are in the system to achieve the goal.
  4. Voluntary participation – basically this means that everyone involved in the game understands the rules, has a clear sense of the goal, and how to receive feedback.


The game itself was based on a popular board game; Cranium. Obviously we made a number of changes from the original game because of copyright, and we wanted to relate the game back to the subject matter of dealing with difficult customers and complaints. The idea of the board game was to work in small groups or pairs, and to get to the centre of the board as quickly as possible.

Players had to complete challenges (game cards) that corresponded to the colour of the speech bubble or lightening bolt. Once the challenge was successfully completed they could roll the dice and move forward. If they landed on a mouth, they had the option to fast track the game by playing on the lightening bolt track.


We had four types of challenges; (1) Puzzle Me, (2) Perform Me, (3) Solve Me, and (4) Make Me.

Complainium Card Examples.PNG

The challenges were based on the content that learners had to complete previously in an eLearn and then in an earlier part of the actual classroom session. The game allowed learners to reinforce their learning, while in some challenges simulate what they would face in the real world.

What was my role?

  • My role was as the researcher and designer for this project. This project was created in collaboration with a colleague, Marisna Roodt.
  • I researched the content and need for this project
  • I identified the audience and context for this project in collaboration with my customer
  • I wrote the learning objectives 
  • I co-designed the rules and process for the game
  • I co-designed the structure and layout of the board game
  • I co-designed and developed the challenge cards for the game