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Designing games to teach Soft Skills (Part 4/4- Personal Suggestions and Conclusion)

by Neeraj Thakur on 07/17/17 10:14:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Designing Games to Teach Soft Skills and Learning Soft Skills by Playing Video Games

<---Part 1: Introduction

<---Part 2: Advantage in Game Based Learning

<---Part 3: Examples

Part 4: Personal Suggestions and Conclusion

4. Personal Suggestions

After discussion about soft skills and gaming, I would like to suggest some entertainment games which I think are most relevant to learn soft skills. Games I am talking about are all AAA titles and are built by hundreds of people by very popular companies. Soft skills mentioned in section 1.2 are described along with the games that will develop those skills:

Communication and Active listening: Role-Playing Game, like Pokemon (Nintendo) games or Witchers (CD Projekt Red) series has text based communication/dialog system. Witcher game has 36 different endings depending on choice of dialogs and action of player. Pokemon, one of the most favorite cartoon of kids have a moto ‘gotta catch ‘em all’, which means a trainer must aim to catch all Pokemons (pocket monsters). To catch all Pokemons, game designer made it impossible to do so unless the gamer trades Pokemons in real life, promoting communication. Adventure games like Prince of Persia-The Two Thrones (Ubisoft), gives narrative hints while fighting the final boss of different level, making gamers active at listening.

Habit: Simulation games like The Sims (Electronic Arts- EA) series teaches good habits like eating properly, taking bath regularly, hygiene, proper sleep; if player fails to keep his/her avatar healthy, it dies. Adventure games like Prince of Persia (Ubisoft) or Assasin’s Creed (Ubisoft) have a straight story line but many hidden paths forcing players to explore and keep moving forward.

Willpower and Drive: Survival games like Resident Evil (Capcom) series are based on dystopian future where player survive with the available resources. This game changes player’s behavior by making him/her less fearful and more focused. Action-role-playing games like Dark Souls (Bandai Namco) forces people to die. It conveys the message ‘to learn by failing’. Many critics and gamers believe this game to be impossible to complete without dying.

Self-esteem, Self-confidence and Motivation: Simulation games like The Sim City (EA) encourages player after every level rise by motivating them through the NPCs. Sandbox role playing games like Minecraft (Microsoft Studios) is an empty map game where players use their creativity to build anything using just blocks. Gamers create beautiful scenery, pixel arts, real world monuments and what not! This builds self-confidence in players and increases their esteem.

Positive attitude and Growth mind set: As discussed earlier, Adventure games like Prince of Persia (Ubisoft) or Assasin’s Creed (Ubisoft) have a straight story line but many hidden paths forcing players to explore and keep moving forward. These type of games are also based on unreal (extra-terrestrial or similar) environment, which causes players to be much more open to ideas. Limit of a gamer’s imagination depends on the game designer’s imagination and game designers have no limit. Gamers welcome challenges, look for opportunities, love to explore new things, thinks everything is possible and keep learning till the end.

Planning and Goal setting: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games like DotA- Defense of the Ancients (Valve Corporation), makes players in team battle each other using internet. Players develop team spirit and belongingness in a team, they plan and strategize different ways to win the game. Gamers also dedicate time to master their avatar by repetitive practicing.

Decision making, Constructive thinking and Resource management: Strategy games like Age of Empire (Microsoft Studios), The Sim City (EA) or Zoo Tycoon (Microsoft Studios) teaches gamers about resource management. In the game, they are empire King, city Mayor or Zoo owner respectively. Gamers uses limited resources in their inventory to manage and plan their empire/city/zoo, which forces them to make decisions, accept failures and work on improvement.

Empathy, Trust and Emotional bonding: In almost all genre of games, gamers have supporting (side) characters which help the protagonist complete the adventure. Games like Final Fantasy (Square Enix) series, due to their story telling, are making gamers feel attached to the character since 1987. *spoiler alert* In 1997, it was very uncommon for game to show death of a character. Gamers still talk about Aerith’s (one of the character) death in Final Fantasy 7 game. Life Is Strange (Square Enix) is yet another example of empathy towards character.

Leadership: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games like Counter Strike (Valve Corporation), DotA (Valve Corporation), Age of Empire (Microsoft Studios) teach gamers team work, commitment and responsibility. Gamers take stand and lead other members in their team towards victory.

 

5. Conclusion

The rationale of the book is based on how to apply and migrate psycho-pedagogical role-playing methodology to educational online role-playing games for soft skills training. We have drawn attention to the fact that soft skills are interpersonal and intrapersonal dimensions and involve a combination of emotional, behavioral and cognitive components that are expression of how people know and manage themselves, as well as their relationships with others. We have seen soft skills are in everyday use, and essentially defined them as behaviorally based competencies, complementary to hard skills and goal-directed behaviors. We have affirmed that soft skills can be learnt and developed through personal experience, interaction, disclosure, feedback and reflection, as they can be exercised within “learning by doing” environments, enabling opportunities for practice and ongoing and constructive feedback. We have therefore explored the reasons for researching training on soft skills in the application of the role-play methodologies and principles in digital virtual environments.

The author of ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, Carol Dweck also used some of the above mentioned theories to teach struggling students (mathematics), where she rewarded students based on use of effort, strategy and progress. She explained this in her TED talk [6], ‘The power of believing that you can improve’. As a student and game designer/programmer, I assisted Prof. Koumudi Palit, Humanity and Social Sciences department, IIT Kanpur, who is also developing an educational game under a project name ‘KHEL’, in which she aims to teach Madhya Pradesh municipal school students through games. 

We have also outlined similarities and differences between traditional settings and new technologies for role-play implementation, as interactive training method proved especially effective at enhancing transversal soft competences such as cognitive, affective and skill-based outcomes of interpersonal skills. Therefore, playing games can be considered as the crucial method to realize the link between training of soft skills and enhancement of individuals’ relationships with others.

<---Part 1: Introduction

<---Part 2: Advantage in Game Based Learning

<---Part 3: Examples

Part 4: Personal Suggestions and Conclusion

References

[1] Dell'Aquila, Elena, Davide Marocco, Michela Ponticorvo, Andrea Di Ferdinando, Massimiliano Schembri, and Orazio Miglino. Educational Games for Soft-skills Training in Digital Environments: New Perspectives. Switzerland: Springer, 2017.

[5] Digital environment. (2017, April 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:17, June 21, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_environment

[6] Dweck, Carol. "The Power of Believing That You Can Improve." Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve | TED Talk | TED.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 June 2017.

[7] List of video game genres. (2017, May 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:22, June 21, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_video_game_genres


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