Imagine yourself as an unwitting new KFC recruit. Your task: to learn how to cook the most famous brand of fried chicken in America. Only trouble is, you’ve been locked in a room with a disembodied Colonel Sanders who can shoot laser beams from the eyes of his looming likeness mounted above the only door in said room. And you can’t walk through that door until you learn how to properly prepare the chicken.
The seasoned videogamers among us might find that scenario appealing. And if they get hired at KFC, they very well could cross it off of their “to play” list. The company arranged for the creation of just such a video game to take advantage of a unique training method: VR.
The VR training experience, dubbed “The Hard Way – a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room,” guides KFC newbies with hints and clues to make sure they are making fried chicken “the Hard Way.”
If they trip up, the voice of the Colonel makes snide, almost threatening comments. In one scene, the employee-player picks up a rubber chicken, only to have it eviscerated by laser beams shooting out from a Sanders portrait above the door.
After successfully completing five steps – inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure frying – participants exit the kitchen with an understanding of what it takes to cook Original Recipe chicken like a professional. Hopefully without fear of the Colonel watching their every move.
KFC will use the VR simulation to supplement its robust, multi-step employee training program, called Chicken Mastery Certification, which provides detailed eLearning and hands-on training for cooks in each of KFC’s kitchens.
The VR training supplements our existing training; it does not replace it, and we are not interested in taking shortcuts in teaching our cooks to hand-prepare our crown jewel, Original Recipe fried chicken. The virtual reality gaming technology is a fun way to celebrate our 19,000 cooks and the work they are doing every day. Their job is so cool, we made it into a game. — George Felix, Director of Advertising, KFC U.S.
“The Hard Way – a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room” was developed in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy’s creative technology group, W+K Lodge, and designed for the Oculus platform utilizing the Rift headset and Touch controllers.
The VR training game’s press release touches on how the fried chicken company sought to impress a new generation of employees with a display of modern technology. As someone who has played video games like Bioshock, which seems to be a light atmospheric influence on “The Hard Way,” I must say that this is definitely a spectacle.
While KFC is not the first fast food company to utilize modern technology (for better or worse), they’ve certainly earned the ranking of “most interesting application,” in my opinion. If you’re a horror fan, a videogamer, AND an aspiring chicken chef, this game finds its niche in your hands — literally.
Though “The Hard Way” is only available to KFC trainees, one has to assume a marketing motive behind its creation. But had the company merely made a game where an idealized (not monster-like) Colonel went on pro-business diatribes and praised its products continually, I think this news would have soured quickly. What’s worse, new employees would have suffered through a tedious and boring slopfest.
But it is this game’s weirdness — self-embracing, yes, but without taking itself too seriously — that makes it interesting and, dare I say it, kind of cool. If the business world is moving in a direction where companies create immersive, strange, and unforgettable experiences around their products, well, I can’t completely complain.