This post was inspired by the Mashable article: Why Higher Education Needs to Get Its Game On. 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 entertaintment. 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 decision making skills 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 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 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.
2. Multiplayer Environment
With the surge of massively multiplayer online games, most college 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.
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 the instructor to schedule and manage his/her course better. The dynamic aspect is prevailent however in the decision-making areas, where students can immediately see the effect of their choices once they start experimenting with the decisions.
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.
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 leaderbord, 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.