E-learning and serious games



The digital landscape is constantly expanding. E-learning, also known as digital learning (often via the Internet), is becoming more and more common. E-learning and serious games are very similar. Serious gaming is, after all, a form of E-learning. In this article, we look at the meaning of both terms and the advantages of serious games as an e-learning method.

What is e-learning?

E-learning is the abbreviation of electronic learning. It is a collective name for everything about digital learning via a laptop, smartphone or tablet. The internet is often needed for e-learning. In practice, we see many e-learning platforms where one can follow a course in the form of a series (videos or texts), divided into chapters. After each chapter, there can be a questionnaire to test whether the student has gained sufficient knowledge.

E-learning has been used since 1999. It is used in schools, training centres and universities. Also, companies are using it more and more often. There are often talks about ‘corporate e-learning’. E-learning offers more flexibility to the publisher of the course and the student himself. On the other hand, e-learning can also be less effective than physical lessons because the course is not always personally tailored to the student. In addition, it is also more difficult for students to ask questions about the course material. For these reasons, e-learning is often used to transfer general skills and knowledge. There is also a mix of e-learning and classroom lessons: blended learning. This form of e-learning is more often used to transfer more complex knowledge.

E-learning and serious games

Serious gaming, sometimes called applied games or gamification (see the difference here!), is simply one of the countless forms of e-learning. Think of it as one of the latest e-learning trends. Serious games are applied in different areas. Think of healthcare, education, and also within companies.

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What advantages do serious games have as an e-learning method?

E-learning has several advantages. It is more accessible because it can be done online anytime, anywhere. Companies also use it more often to save costs and offer more flexibility to employees. There is no need to travel and no teacher in front of the group. These advantages also apply to serious games. In addition, there are a number of factors in serious games that make it an attractive choice as an e-learning method to transfer knowledge or change behavior. Namely:

  1. High engagement: serious games make use of game mechanisms for a high entertainment value. The fun factor of games ensures high involvement: players are motivated to continue to unlock new rewards and find out how the story ends.
  2. A safe place to experiment: making mistakes is not a problem in serious games. In fact: a level can be replayed 100 times. In addition, actions in the real world sometimes have consequences such as damaged material or hurt feelings. In the safe virtual space of games, this is not the case.
  3. Positive emotions improve learning: It is fun! Studies have shown that students who learn using games experience more positive emotions. This leads to a better learning experience compared to traditional and video learning methods.

Tip: There are often misconceptions about serious gaming. In this article, we discussed the 7 most common objections to serious games!

An example of e-learning with serious games: Transportuga Bay

Grendel Games has already developed a wide variety of serious games. An example of an e-learning project, with a serious game as a learning tool, is Transportuga Bay. This game has been developed for the transport control department of National Railways of the Netherlands (NS). In the game, NS employees go on adventures as pirate captains and encounter problems along the way. These problems have to be solved as quickly as possible. Some activities required during the adventure include searching for treasures, collecting goods and beating sea monsters.  This NS serious game is full of exciting moments that provide insight into the chain process of NS and helps employees to experience practical situations in a fun way. This takes place in a safe environment with optimal knowledge transfer due to the high entertainment value.

This is the first time that the NS is using a serious game to introduce employees to the work field. By using e-learning they save costs on training staff. Employees also learn better and faster because  they are stimulated to play more often and for longer (also called customer loyalty).


Would you like to know more about serious games or gamification? Please contact Tim Laning for a talk:

Tim Laning

Business developer

Do you want to know more about the possibilities of serious games? Let’s discuss what serious games can do for you.


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