“It’s not about the bricks,” Britta states in regard to what is needed for a successful LSP session. “It’s about the process. It’s all about the process. The bricks are only the tools.” Just like in business, good serious games put the person—not the tools or technological possibilities—at the centre of its design. Who is your target audience? What is their role in the business? What do they value and what are their pain points? Understanding what the player wants helps you create successful and satisfactory game experiences.
In LSP, the bricks are a valuable tangible asset to serve as a reminder of the process participants have collaborated on, even after the workshop ends. “A lot of companies prefer to keep the models that they built in the company,” Britta mentions. “When they have management meetings, they can put it on the table and see the vision—and the decisions you make, you can hold them to the model and ask: does this fit with what we wished in our vision?”
Teamwork makes the dream work
Humans are inherently social creatures. Games facilitate social behaviour by offering a setting that brings people together to achieve clear, common goals. For users that value community and collaboration, turning the learning process into a team effort makes serious games compelling. An added benefit within the business context is the feedback tempo. Projects in real life can take weeks, months or even years and typically feedback moments are sparsely distributed. In serious gaming, the pace is higher and players are able to see the results or consequences of their actions quickly. This also makes it easier to understand what others are doing and how their actions affect the outcome of the game. This sense of community is particularly important in LSP, which isn’t a traditional game. “There’s no winners and losers,” Britta explains. In fact, it’s the opposite: the aim of LSP is not to win, but to achieve consensus and commitment.
A sense of community is not only appealing to those that prioritise collaboration. Game mechanics also make use of people’s competitivity. In Terminal Excellence, for example, teams compete against each other for several rounds to see whose terminal achieves the best results. Clearing missions, earning points or rewards—these game objectives can be powerful for those who place value on how they are performing compared to others. Players who are doing well are able to derive satisfaction from the learning process. Players who are behind may work harder to understand how they can improve or why others are more successful in the game. Of course, winning the game itself is not the end goal of serious gaming. It does increase overall learning effectiveness by creating a sense of purpose.
“The traditional meeting is a lean-back meeting, where we sit leaned back and listen, inactively, to a manager at the end of the table.”
LSP focuses on a harmonious community, while Terminal Excellence pits teams against one another. However, they have in common that they use play to increase participation. When prompted on participation, Britta gives a telling example of decision-making processes in corporate environments: “The traditional meeting is a lean-back meeting, where we sit leaned back and listen, inactively, to a manager at the end of the table. You know, someone will be checking their telephone or tablet…” With the LSP method, players have to deliver and collaborate with their fellow participants to come up with solutions. “You can’t join an LSP session and not be active. It’s simply not a possibility.”
Let the games begin
It isn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel and design something from scratch to reap the benefits of serious gaming. As illustrated, a number of existing options exist for you to explore. When choosing a method, always keep in mind the three P’s:
- Which processes are you simulating or defining? – Depending on the complexity or impact of these processes, you may choose one game setting over another.
- Who will be the participants? – What is their background knowledge on the subject matter and which barriers in time and location do they need to overcome?
- What is the purpose of the game? – What is the challenge that you are trying to find a solution for or the main outcome you are working towards?
Once you’ve figured out which basic criteria the game should meet, you can start thinking about the details. Will it be a competition, like Terminal Excellence, or a community activity such as LSP? Will there be teams or are people participating individually? Do you need to get all participants in the room together or would a digital application be more suitable? In today’s world, the only limit is your imagination!