There is an amazing window of opportunity that has opened up that will help speed the development of the gamification of education and training. If you are not familiar with the term, gamification refers to using advanced simulations and skill-based learning systems that are self-diagnostic, interactive, game-like, and competitive, all focused on giving the user an immersive experience, thanks to a photo-realistic 3D interface.

With today’s gaming systems, you enter an inner-spatial 3D world, 3D objects don’t pop out at you, you go inside the world. With photo-realistic simulations, you can go left, right, up, or down. You can drive tanks, fly planes, and do things that are impossible in the real world. It’s quite amazing and, along with a great game and graphics, it plays a central role in making electronic gaming so much fun and addictive. In fact, more than 200 million Wii 2 systems, Xbox 360 systems, and Playstation 3 systems have been sold worldwide. And over 12 million people subscribe (at $15 per month) to play the online game World of Warcraft.

While those numbers are impressive, there’s a relatively recent downside: In 2011, video game sales fell by 8%. And in the first 8 months of 2012, retail sales of video games have plummeted an additional 20% in the United States…and they’re going down in many other places around the world.

Why the decline? One reason is the rapid increase in people (young and old) who are using the latest smart phones, and they are finding that the new models make great gaming machines, thus offering a less expensive alternative to traditional gaming systems.

And therein lies the opportunity: When you have a 20% slump in 8 months and 8% the year before, which means now we’re at nearly a 30% slump in the last 18 months, there are many great programmers—people who know how to make interactive worlds come to life—who are going to be looking for new opportunities.  It is likely that many will turn to creating game-like education and training programs for the academic and business worlds. And if the big electronic gaming companies want to grow in a slump, they should start an education-gamming division rather than loose some of their best and brightest programmers by letting them become the competition.

This opens a big door of opportunity for anyone who wants to profit from the Hard Trend of the gamification of education and training. The sooner you seize it, the sooner you can accelerate learning in your organization.