How Narratives Create Immersive Learning

Immersive Learning
With the pandemic at its peak right now in South Africa, we’re finding ourselves being drawn to more escapism activities. The activities that distract us from our reality, often a coping mechanism used when life gets a little on the bleak side. We use books, tv shows and movies, and of course games. What makes these activities so attractive in terms of escaping our reality? The story, the narrative, the way our world gets put on hold while we’re engrossed in this alternate world.
As leaders in Experiential Learning, Game2Change knows all about the importance of narratives in learning solutions. Training and learning are often a tick box mandate for many companies and buy-in from participants can be low. We use narratives and storytelling to create engagement and motivation and ultimately distract from the mandate. Participants get immersed and escape into the alternate narrative all while learning and training. This escapism is highlighted when we have groups of participants taking on roles and responsibilities within a game narrative. A recent program of ours challenges teams to save The Great Barrier Reef by each taking on a role such as Reefologist and Risk Manager. Each player has tasks and responsibilities and trust me, they take these roles seriously. They become completely immersed in the narrative and the learning becomes subconscious. This program focuses on team communication with a full debrief after the session and allows connections to be made between the alternate game world and their reality. A fundamental step for learning programs is guiding participants to take what they have learned and apply it to their real worlds and contexts.
Gamification focuses on converting processes or systems to include simple game mechanics, often points, badges, and leader boards (PBL’s). These are great, but often lack depth, and immersion isn’t achieved without the full narrative and storyline woven through all the mechanics and tasks.
Gamification often uses extrinsic motivation to progress and persevere and little intrinsic motivation is tapped into. By simply adding a strong narrative you tap into users’ intrinsic motivation whereby they engage for the enjoyment and interaction itself and less for the extrinsic rewards. Simple tasks become engaging when you create the narrative around them.
Here is an example of a culture and values program we at Game2Change designed:
A culture and transformation program where the theme was football; the game was simple, but the engagement was immense.
Participants were divided into teams; team names and war cries were created, and the rivalry was instantaneous. Teams were required to nominate coaches, managers and captains, each with a role-based responsibility. Teams played matches against each other designed around the program content and outcomes. Teams would progress to playoff’s and we even incorporated a live football penalty shoot-out. The narrative became so immersive that the team camaraderie was transferred to the workplace and identities to teams carried on long after the program ended. All with a little bit of decent storytelling.
Narratives have impact when tasks and activities are framed as “story moments”. In order to keep engagement and the immersion long-lasting, task requirements need to line up with the narrative. If there is misalignment, then the narrative breaks and the user falls out of the immersion. Another fundamental aspect is the relevance of the narrative to the user. Does your narrative interest the user and create an alternate world they want to be immersed in? This comes down to creating user persona’s and developing narratives that appeal to the majority of your user group.
If you’re ready to add some narratives to your solutions, be it simple or complex, then get in touch and we can share a few of our chapters with you.

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