While there’s still nothing quite like hands-on experience in any profession, the feedback, variety, and customization of virtual training has made major progress over the past few years. Take a look at 15 unique professions that are using specialized video games to sharpen skills. 

1. Hotel Hospitality

Along with a comfortable bed, efficient hotel employees can make all the difference when it comes to whether guests will be back for a return stay. Some major chains have commissioned a simulator that allows guest service representatives to see how common problems—and their solutions—can impact a visit everywhere from the front desk to housekeeping.

2. Bartenders

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Pouring a draught beer is an acquired skill: There has to be a right ratio of suds to liquid, and having a light touch can entice other patrons into ordering a glass. One major brewery decided to train bartenders with a game that rewards a good pour and penalizes users who clink a refilled glass against the tap for causing a possible cross-contamination issue.

3. Ice Cream Scoopers

While getting a little extra vanilla in your cone isn’t a bad way to end a day, it might not be the best thing if you’re a major ice cream chain trying to maintain consistent quantities. One franchise created a video game simulation that instructs employees on exactly how much to put into each scoop.

4. Health Plan Advisors

In order to foster a better understanding of all elements of its plans among call center responders, one major health insurance carrier has combined an app-style game of cutting sushi with pop-up trivia on health coverage. By getting invested in the game, employees are also retaining the information that comes with it. The game’s manufacturer performed a study that showed a 66 percent reduction in mistakes after training.

5. Surgeons

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Laparoscopic surgeons—those who specialize in using small instruments in tiny incisions—can benefit from simulators that use comparable controllers, but story-based, mainstream games have also been shown to improve doctors’ spatial perception and hand-eye coordination.

6. Nursing

While surgeons can benefit from games, game developers haven’t forgotten about nurses. Some hospitals have programs where staff can simulate responses to various emergencies or care situations. The goal is to increase the standard for patient safety and minimize human error.

7. Electronics and Appliance Repair

Putting the right part in the right place takes a lot of experience and knowledge of hundreds of different models. Technicians can get an opportunity for repetitive practice by “dropping” parts into specific areas on a machine using a cursor.

8. Accounting

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The sometimes-excruciating details of tax preparation and money management can often mean long, boring hours absorbing (and trying to retain) information. Increasingly, accountants are taking up games that feature built-in knowledge tests. If they answer correctly, they’re able to continue playing the game. Some companies even use the system to allow employees to earn perks like free coffee or vacation days.

9. Firefighters

It’s not exactly practical to set buildings ablaze in order for firefighters to practice their skills under duress. Simulators have been developed that allow for trainees to experience a burning building, learn layouts, figure out how to work in tandem with other responders, and get correction on mistakes.

10. Dentists

There continues to be a shortage of people lining up to be a dental student’s “first” anything. Fortunately, games and simulations can help trainees when it comes to trickier procedures like implants. One actually penalizes players with a highly vocal patient if anesthetic is administered in the wrong spot.

11. Truck Drivers

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Inclement weather can be a hazard for long-distance drivers, and it’s difficult to replicate these nasty road conditions. Luckily, virtual driving environments can throw waves of ice, hail, and other road dangers at them so they’re better prepared for the real thing.

12. Forklift Operators

Despite a large selection of driving simulators, forklift operators haven’t been the beneficiaries of training technology until now. Normally, drivers watched a generic safety video before hopping on the heavy machinery; more recently, software developers have been able to photograph actual warehouse environments and instruct new hires on common obstacles and safety concerns.

13. Astronauts

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Navigating new terrain or atmospheres is not easy to practice on Earth. As plans to go deeper into space become more ambitious, space programs are using video games to help foster teamwork, improve moods, and predict changes to group dynamics in anticipation of longer voyages.

14. Spies

Intelligence officers need to traffic in hard data, and they need to remember what they’ve learned. The U.S. has used different games that concentrate on knowledge retention, situational analysis, and other memory and brain skills to improve their observational abilities.

15. Car Salesmen

An unpredictable customer stream means car dealerships often have considerable downtime, which is usually spent chatting or refueling with coffee. Recently, one major car manufacturer decided to take advantage of these windows by implementing games that test salesmen on their knowledge of various makes and models. By breaking up the instruction, employees can avoid extended training courses that take them away from the sales floor.