Cisco puts the gaming in training

All work and no play is bad for the health, but the future is looking more playful with games increasingly being used in workplace training, according to Cisco's director of certifications, Don Field.

Cisco has this week launched its latest, free online game in a series of technology learning games developed by Insite Interactive. This offering, Cisco Secure Volunteer, aims to help networking professionals learn VPN skills in the context of a real-life setting based on a non-profit organization called NetHope.

Each player joins NetHope as a 'volunteer' to set up VPN connectivity for enabling relief workers in the field to securely share information with headquarters. The player moves through virtual rooms in the game and interacts with fictitious characters to configure a Cisco VPN concentrator.

"Recent research indicates the average 21 year-old has played 10,000 hours of video games. Studies show that adults learn and retain more in courses that incorporate such game elements as competitive scoring, increasingly difficult player levels and fantasy role-playing," a Cisco spokesperson said.

Field said the games also attract more people to the Cisco learning community, expose specialist and advanced market areas and provide valuable employee development.

If managers are not having success getting their staff to read the user manuals, they could get them to play the games instead, he said.

Field admitted there are some barriers to having games accepted in the workplace as valid and valuable training.

"But I would like to think that the content of the games is compelling enough so that if a manager walks by, rather than trying to hide the screen, an employee might say 'hey, come on over and take a look at this'."

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