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More Evidence for Video Games as Instructors

2010 February 3

Consider the case of Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley who recently demonstrated what is perhaps the best evidence of transfer of training from a video game to the workplace that I have ever seen.  In this case, the workplace is the football field, but the principle remains the same.

According to a recent article in Wired, in the first game of the 2009 season, Stokley performed a surprising game-winning play – a touchdown that started 87 yards down the field.  But those sorts of miracles happen in a lot of games – what doesn’t usually happen is Stokley’s move right before the end zone.  Rather than running straight in for the touchdown, he cuts 90 degrees and runs parallel to the end zone before cutting in for the goal.

In football played on pro fields, that’s a little odd.  Normally, if you’re about to score a goal, you simply run right into the end zone: the goal-scoring area.  Instead, Stokley replicated something he’d done countless times before, but not on the field – in a video game called Madden NFL.

In training terms, this is quite compelling.  Madden NFL is essentially a football simulator.  It replicates the field, player actions, coach strategies and so on down to the finest details.  In playing Madden, Stokley was testing theories about what kinds of plays would work and seeing them in action, all without having to leave his couch.  And the result?  According to the Wired article:

When I caught up with Stokley by telephone a few weeks later, I asked him point-blank: “Is that something out of a videogame?” “It definitely is,” Stokley said. “I think everybody who’s played those games has done that” — run around the field for a while at the end of the game to shave a few precious seconds off the clock. Stokley said he had performed that maneuver in a videogame “probably hundreds of times” before doing it in a real NFL game. “I don’t know if subconsciously it made me do it or not,” he said.

He tested and perfected a technique in a video game and then applied it on the field.  What better evidence of transfer of training from video games can there be?

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    February 20, 2010

    I’m pretty sure this would also qualify as transfer of training; however, definitely on the ineffective end of the continuum…

  2. February 21, 2010

    Actually, I think that’s an example of very effective transfer. But perhaps the needs analysis was not conducted correctly.

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