If you think that gaming is only the domain of the young and nerdy, think again. A study shows that 70% of American college students play video games at least "once in a while", with the rest of the world showing equal signs of interest in this often misunderstood and underestimated source of entertainment. Not only are games entertaining however, if focused correctly, they are also one of the most engaging learning platforms a student can encounter.
Thankfully, educational institutions are taking note, and there's an increasing trend towards utilizing persuasive and serious games in all levels of education across the globe. Business simulation games are a specialized form of experiential learning focused entirely on improving business acumen by tapping into students natural aptitude for technology coupled with their love of gamified environments.
Here are 5 reasons why your students will enjoy and benefit from business management simulation games as educational technology learning tools:
1. Risk Free Learning
One of the foundations of the 'learning by doing' concept of business games is the acceptance of failures, and the ability of deriving valuable learning from them. According to Professor Steve Blank at Stanford University, this very tenet is what made Silicon Valley become the unique and striving start-up hub it is today, and it is an invaluable skill for students to get a handle on before embarking on their journey as working adults. But before you send your students out into the world to lose all their savings on a badly executed venture, there's a safer way of helping them to first learn how to navigate the landscape of a real company: business simulations.
What makes business strategy games an excellent tool to practice real world business decision-making skills is that everything happens in a risk free simulated learning environment, where students are encouraged to try out different strategies, observe the results, monitor market fluctuations, then pivot their direction, all without real-life reprecussions.
See Manisha Kumari's comment on the risk free simulated business environment in How to Improve Student Employability with Business Simulation Games.
2. Multiplayer Environment
With the surge of massively multiplayer online games, most college and university students today are familiar with, and tend to prefer an environment where they get to interact with other players in either a cooperative or competitive fashion. Games like this are bringing millions of people from around the world together in virtual worlds, mirroring the phenomenon of increased internationalization and cross-border cooperation between businesses as well.
In online business simulation games, students form the management team of a virtual company, that competes against other companies in the same market for a slice of the consumer pie. And with a fully web-based platform supported by an in-game messaging system, these teams can form anywhere in the world to improve cross-campus cooperation and create exciting competitions between partner universities.
With the mission to enlighten our future leaders on strategy and business management, Cesim simulations has long been the simulation provider for one of the biggest international student competitions in the world, the Peak Time. Participants test their business analytical and decision making skills by strategizing against each other with the goal of acquring the biggest share of the market and having a sustainable growth.
For more information on the simulated game environment, refer to the typical game flow of business simulations.
3. Interactive Gameplay
Another appeal of many games is their real time feedback on decisions made. This not only makes them more engaging, but helps students to practice a number of different strategies in a short period of time to discover what works best.
Cesim simulations employ a round-based system, thus giving students the opportunity to strategize with their teammates before making the final decisions, and allowing instructors to schedule and manage courses better. The dynamic aspect is prevalent however in the decision-making areas, where students can immediately see the effect of their choices once they start experimenting with the decisions. After every decision-making round, students' decisions will be simulated against other teams and the results of the round are immediately available on the simulation platform.
Want to explore Cesim simulation games and test how interactive they are? Get your free trial here.
4. Realistic Story Arc
Good stories have captivated humans since the dawn of time, and it isn't any different today. In business as well as in games, story driven marketing and gameplay are very successful in enticing large audiences.
In higher education, stories have been encapsulated in case studies, which although take students through a particular segment of a company's life, it happens in a non-interactive format, the importance of which I've written above.
In business management games, students can take one step further towards full immersion by actually becoming the protagonists of their company's story, and determining its faith through decisions made in a volatile environment. Not only does this give students a greater sense of purpose, but they will be much more likely to think carefully about their actions when they don't only exist in theory.
For example, in Cesim SimBrand, marketing management simulation game, there is a playable scenario focusing on fast moving consumer goods. Student teams are put in charge of the marketing activities of a company that produces soft drinks and juices that come in many flavors and sizes, catering to a very broad customer base.
5. In-Game Rewards
What would this entire experience be without satisfying rewards however? Just like in traditional games, business simulator games also reward players in many ways, most notably by stellar rankings on the leaderboard, and by a market leader position with a great cumulative total shareholder return.
But the most valuable rewards for students is ultimately the improved business decision making skills, holistic thinking, teamwork, proactive pivoting, and problem solving skills, all of which will be retained substantially longer than by other, less active forms of learning.