Can gaming characteristics be used as a method of overcoming cultural barriers in training?

As an educator there can be many various challenges and barriers to delivering effective Training. One challenge that has become more common in recent years is that of a cultural nature. These vary from the difference in educational approaches dependent on the local educational cultural and the expectations of a student in a classroom scenario, to the less measurable Language, Body Language and even Etiquette skills. The Barriers are even more obvious and abundant in a multi-cultural classroom or training scenario.

The areas mentioned above are aspects of training and education which differ from culture to culture and if there is a lack of synergy between trainer and student or even between students of varying cultural backgrounds it can be hard to create an atmosphere conducive to effective training.

Although we may find that there are many tools and resources available, are we really using all of what’s available to us and are we using them with the right approach in mind? For example, e-learning and multimedia methods of training can be seen to be used at times as merely methods of presenting digital text with no real structure, interaction or presentation design behind them.

                  I believe that the characteristics inherent to simulations and educational games, which can be used to increase learning and motivation in a training scenario, can be used as a bridge to bypass these cultural barriers by allowing the Trainee to progress and develop in a training scenario that can be flexible and can be customized to meet the individual needs of the learners.

There are a number of features that supplement the characteristics of games and simulations. In games there are six structural factors:
·                Rules
·                Goals and Objectives
·                Outcomes and Feedback
·                Conflict / Competition / Challenge / Opposition
·                Interaction
·                Representation or Story
                                                                                          (Prensky 2001)
The use of these factors and characteristics may allow us to accommodate different types of learning styles, also giving Students the advantage of learning at their own pace. Students will learn through a variety of activities that apply to many different learning styles learners have.

So using these gaming characteristics we can apply them to various training methodologies and scenarios to see if appropriately used, can they help overcome or even improve how we handle cultural barriers in training.


Prensky, 2001, Digital Game-Based Learning, McGrawHill, New York.

Benjamin Hamilton, 2007, ‘Game Characteristics’, Learning Design and Performance Improvement, accessed 3 October 2009, from