Jennifer Berger is a full-time learning designer at LearnChamp, but she is also a dedicated organizer and host at F.R.O.G in GameCity in Vienna, Austria. She invited me to a presentation and explained to me afterwards why GameCity is so important for children, teenagers, and parents. We also spoke about the gamification of e-learning.
Hi, Jenny. Thank you for inviting me to GameCity and the F.R.O.G. presentations and most of all agreeing to this informal chat. Can you tell me a little bit about F.R.O.G.?
Jennifer Berger: F.R.O.G. stands for Future and Reality of Gaming and it is part of Vienna’s GameCity event. GameCity took place last weekend for the eighth time. The event was established because of tragic circumstances: a school massacre in Germany in 2006. Video games were blamed for the massacre. It resulted in strict regulations on video games in Germany. Austria responded to the incident, too. However, the Youth Councilor back then did not want to create long lists of prohibited games, but rather turn the issue into something positive and provide information to children, teenagers, and parents. To this end, she brought a group of experts on board and started a discussion.
When this group came together to discuss the issue, the idea to initiate an informative event was born. The event consists of four areas today:
- Kid’s zone
- e-sport zone
- Exhibitor zone
- And F.R.O.G., launched by Herbert Rosenstingl, which provides a platform for media education enthusiasts.
Have you always been interested in video games?
JB: I grew up with video games because my dad is also really into gaming. He was never against me playing because he was always there when I was playing. We had a very trusting relationship, and that’s what I want to give to the parents. We need to lose the negative connotations we associate with video games. That’s why we have GameCity.
There are many positive aspects to computer games. You can practice hand-eye coordination, learn how to understand rules, and, particularly in team games, learn how to take on responsibility. What’s more, an incredibly high number of non-native English-speaking gamers often voluntarily communicate in English when gaming in order to build teams with other gamers from around the world.
Constance Steinkühler explained in her presentation that we are more prone to learning and learning is much easier when we’re interested in the subject. Do you see a connection to what we are doing at LearnChamp? Is it possible to implement these concepts in adult and company education?
JB: I think the things that you learn when playing computer games can be applied to every age group and professional category. Games provide a secure environment and use media in a positive way. That’s important in many places, but particularly in e-learning.
We reach learners who want to complete a training program and get to the next level through good implementation, good usability, and a certain form of gamification. You need to awaken ambition. And of course, the best way to do that is in a playful manner.
Do you think this is happening at LearnChamp already?
JB: We take a very playful approach to a lot of things. When I first joined LearnChamp, I clicked through a range of exercises and modules. So, for example, there are programs for retailers where you have to accept goods. Instead of bombarding the learner with material, we created a module that introduces the learner to the task visually and provides the information in a simulation.
There are always going to be courses where you have people thinking: “Do I really have to do this?” Do you think that we are counteracting these thoughts with our learning designs?
JB: There is a real chance that visually appealing and interactive courses will ensure that the material learned remains etched in memory. That’s exactly what we want to achieve. At the end of the day, the learners have to be able to implement their knowledge later on.
For example, we developed an exercise whereby the learner had to remember an emergency telephone number. Instead of just getting them to write down the number, we made them type it on a telephone keypad within a certain period of time. This enhances the realness of the situation and simulates a real emergency, which leads to a high learning impact.
I think we have a lot of freedom at LearnChamp to contribute our talents and ideas and that leads to creative exchanges of ideas among colleagues, which in turn results in our ability to offer customers creative approaches to learning.
Many customers are impressed by the way we playfully implement learning content.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to highlight?
JB: In terms of F.R.O.G., I think it’s important to know the story behind it. From the outside, the event is obviously seen as a gaming fair, but the informative aspect should still remain in the spotlight. GameCity and F.R.O.G. aim to demonstrate to children, teenagers, and adults how to engage more positively with video games.
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