At Getronics PinkRoccade, ASL and BiSL are instruments
in determining ICT strategies in cooperation with clients.
The integrated gaming an simulation environment we are developing is meant
to train our employees in the use of ASL and BiSL.
In developing this application we draw on our experience
in business process simulation, [Eliens et al. (1996)], and visualisation [Schonhage et al. (2000)].
A reference model for serious games
There are many resources on serious gamesa.
To indicate what it is all about, we present a quote from
Serious games and simulations are poised for a second revolution.
Today's children, our workforce and scientists are increasingly playing,
learning, and inventing in visually intensive "virtual" environments.
In our increasingly experiential economy, immersive educational and
training solutions are needed to advance the workforce of tomorrow.
Game-based learning and technologies meet this challenge.
However, regardless of the fuzz being made, apart from the euphorics their is little
attention to determine in a more scientific way what the actual value
of the game is in the learning process, and what elements or aspects of the game
contribute to the learning experience.
To provide such a foundation, we propose to adopt a modified version
of the classic game model introduced in [Juul (2005)].
According to [Juul (2005)],
the defining characteristics of a game can be expressed by making explicit
the rules of the game, the outcome of the actions of the
player, the value attached to these outcomes and the effort
required of the player to obtain these values.
In addition, the model proposed in [Juul (2005)] adresses why a player
develops an attachment with the game and what might be the
possible consequences of playing the game in relation to the real
world, for example making friends in an online role playing game or become
famous in a game contest.
As an illustration of how to use the model to evaluate a game consider,
for example, that with respect to the effort required of the player, games
may be very different in what skills the player needs to have to obtain
the desired outcomes, dependent on the type of game,
that is whether it is a role playing game, a strategy game, or a first person shooter
primarily focussed on the perceptual-motoric skills of the player.
To what extent the story underlying a game is important is not only
dependent on the type of game, but also on the technology used to realize the game.
To quote [Juul (2005)]: game fiction is ambiguous,
optional and imagined by the player in uncontrollable and unpredictable ways,
but the emphasis on fictional worlds may be the strongest innovation of the video game.
Clearly, video games have proved to be appealing, not only by a younger audience,
but also for more mature player, since they realize the immersive aspects of game playing
in the most dramatic way.
However, whether we want our trainees in service management to be virtual heroes
of the immersive kind is yet to be seen.
Criteria of effective service management games
As a first attempt to formulate criteria for effective service management games,
we give a characterization in terms of the reference game model,
introduced in section 3, as outlined below:
criteria for effective games
- rules -- service management protocols
- outcome -- learning process
- value -- intellectual satisfaction
- effort -- study procedures
- attachment -- corporate identity
- consequences -- job qualification
There is no need to emphasize that this is only a first approximation, and for that
matter a rough one.
What we must keep in mind, however, is that the model is not only applicable on a
macro-level, to characterize an entire game, but more importantly may also
be applied on a micro-level, to establish the criteria for each (relevant) step
in the game play, that is, as we will further outline in section 6, for
each problem situation for which an effective solution must be provided by
To emphasize the relevance for service management games, we wish to add
two more criteria to the model, respectively scenarios
and reward, dealing with the (serious) content of the game:
- scenarios - problem solving service management
- reward - service level agreement
Currently, there already is a great offer of business management games.
For example, when googling on game, business, and management,
we find, among many other offerings games to
(which provides urgent problem situations in a variety of areas,
including military and health care applications), and
(which provides a eight round cycle of sessions instruction how
to start a business, get clients, etc., with extensive feedback in the form of
reports and comments after each round).
A general observation we may make here is that the games we have seen so far primarily focus
on functionality and offer at best an efficient interface, which we do
not find very appealing from a more artistic perspective.
As observed in [Van Houten and Verbraeck (2006)], the defining characteristic of management games,
from an architectural perspective, is the need to combine
the so-called game loop, which propagates actions of the player into the game state,
with what is known as the simulation loop,
which determines what events occur, and schedules future events based
on a simulation model.
For the game play, we need to develop, or use, some sort
of game engine,
which following [Sherrod (2006)] may be regarded to consist of the following
- rendering system -- 2D/3D graphics
- input system -- user interaction
- sound system -- ambient and re-active
- physics system -- for the blockbusters
- animation system -- motion of objects and characters
- artificial intelligence system -- for real challenge(s)
The level of sophistication of each of these components may vary,
dependent on whether we want, for example, to introduce compelling visual effects.
For a management system in general it is indeed arguable whether we need
a fully fledged physics system, although, as we will discuss in section 6,
for a climate resource management system it might be a valuable, at least
Other requirements are set by the possible need to offer the game
online, as a multi-user game, and possibly with extra facilities such
as chatting and instant messaging.
Finally, we must consider that not only the game engine is important,
but perhaps even more so, the game programming, that is the
computional means to define the rules of the game, and the (visual) outcome
of player actions. [Van Houten and Verbraeck (2006)] introduces a rule-based formalism for game programming,
where our own preference would be a combination of
extending an existing game engine such as
or in a more lightweigth fashion based on our
intelligent multimedia platform, described in [Eliens et al. (2002)].
Game development -- technical and artistic issues
In essence, according to [Schuytema (2007)],
a game is simply a series of processes that takes a player to a result.
However, observing with [Kress and van Leeuwen (1996)] that
games are an increasingly important element in our visual culture,
we must, in developing a game, spent sufficient attention to
the visual appearance and the sensorial aspects of game.
Recently, our group at the VU has been involved in'developing a
for the Academische Jaarprijs competition, where a number of similar issues with
respect to game development re-occurred.
In particular, in developing the actual scenario(s) for the game,
which allows the user to control climate-related resources, dependent on
the power obtained in previous game play, we had to look at each choice point
for an adequate solution, using a checklist, that comprised the
possible perspectives of the player, the scenarios determining the
challenges set for the players, as well as the visual effects, as an
implicit reward for the player taking action.
In the climate game project, we are further exploring various technologies,
including interactive video with flash, as well as the use of
the HalfLife2 game engine, whith which we gained experience in developing
a promotional game for our faculty, [Eliens and Bhikharie (2006)].
With regard to the use of 3D we may remark that
since ancient times a walk in space has served as a mnemonic device, and as such
spatial memory may aid in retention and understanding, which might also
provide a decisive argument for the use of 3D in a service management game!
In this paper, we have introduced a game model
which served as a reference to discuss the criteria for
effective service management games.
We have observed that the quality of a game
in the general flow of the game experience and
in the individual moments during a playing session,
which have to be defined both with respect to the (learning) goals
set for the (serious) game, as well as the involvement of the player, that is fun.
Against the background of these criteria we have indicated architectural
requirements as well as technical and artistic issues in the development
of service management games.
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Charles River Media
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Charles River Media
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