The Relevance of a Game-Based Approach to Learning in a VUCA World

by Shreekant Shiralkar

Digitalization and communication technologies have driven the information age and are causing dramatic changes to all aspects of society. Ubiquitous nature of Technology on one side challenges the existing models, opens-up new horizons on the other. Recent incidence bought forward perils of technology’s ability to influence the elections outcomes [ref. Cambridge Analytica fiasco]. The term VUCA aptly defines the environment that we are living in.

Skills needed to survive and thrive in a VUCA world can be deciphered from the report titled “The Future of Jobs and Skills” published by World Economic Forum. The report identifies following top 10 skills for 2020.

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Traditional teaching and learning methods of reading books, listening to lectures are not adequate, effective and relevant and more so for acquiring skills listed above.

Learning to ride a bicycle or swimming, are perfect examples of the impact of learning by doing or “Experiential Learning” which makes the learner reflect and develop abstract learning, which improves with experiments and experiences on application in the real world.

It is important to mention that the theories relating to success of experiential learning are not new. In 1984 a professor of learning, David Kolb published a ground breaking book called ‘Experiential Learning — experience as the source of learning and development’ and highlighted that adults learn best through discovery and experience.

The learning pyramid published by National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavioral Science endorses the view by establishing impact of Active Learning [referred as Participatory Teaching Method in the pic below]

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The technology offered a whole new set of options to attract and engage a learner, triggering integration of game elements into the learning context. It is a well-established fact that games raise the level of engagement and interest of the learner, thereby enabling higher participation in the learning process.

Above-said is the source of motivation for the Game-based-approach that I have been propagating. I have applied the approach to multiple scenarios that ranged from Academia to Industry to Individual Soft Skill development. In each of the scenario, I found the approach producing extra-ordinary results.

Let me share a succinct summary of the past 18 years of application of Game-based– approach for learning scenarios and situations, covering over 1,10,000 people in more than 25 different situations, spanning across the Academia, Industry and Individuals.


In early 2012, I was invited to design and deliver a course on ERP to MBA students, that was my first opportunity to apply Game-based-approach to learning in Education.

In early 2015, I was invited as guest faculty to deliver a lecture on “Project Management” to a class of engineering students.

In the past 3 years, I have been a part of many Faculty Development programs, where I showcased and established application of the approach to Teachers and Faculty members from Academia.

The outcome from each application of the approach in academia continues to add to my confidence on its Relevance & Effectiveness to Higher Education.


In 1999, I was core member of a team that played an important role in the IT- led transformation of the company. Adoption of new technology by stakeholders within a short time needed some innovative idea, which provided me situation for designing a virtual treasure hunt as a game.

I designed and deployed multiple games that enabled the top management of the company to understand new technology as also learn the potential challenges in its successful implementation.


In 2013 and 2014, I designed and delivered sessions to students and corporates entirely premised on gamification. Feedback received for learning and acquiring soft skills was evidencing successful outcomes.


Observing the relevance & effectiveness of the approach sparked the idea to author my book titled IT Through Experiential Learning and fill the void of a reference resource as also raised awareness about application possibilities of experiential learning through games.

About the Author

Shreekant Shiralkar is a senior management professional with experience on leading and managing business functions as well as technology consulting. Presently he is consolidating Analytic practice for Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. He has expertise in establishing, expanding and diversifying businesses for Fortune 500 firms.  Shreekant has mentored authors, published best-selling books and white papers on technology, and has patents for innovation on technology and service delivery.

This article was contributed by Shreekant Shiralkar, author of IT Through Experiential Learning.