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Andrew Martin PhD (Warwick) MA (Cambridge) Dip Mgmt Studies

Principal Teaching Fellow, Computing and Information Systems

Business simulation / games

Introduction

Simulation/games are a well-established mode of teaching and learning, attracting significant attention since the 1960’s. There are many types and applications of management games of which simulations are one; they are nowhere better described than in Elgood (1997). Simulations can be used to transfer functional knowledge, and, equally importantly, to provide an experiential ‘feel’ for and an holistic view of a subject area in a way which cannot be achieved by other methods. ‘Some things cannot easily be learned by reading, writing or thinking about them. You may have to do them as well’ (Gibbs and Habeshaw, 1989). They can be considered to be ‘flight simulators for business’. They can also be used for more personal skills development such as team building, communication and negotiation.
I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.
(Old Chinese proverb)
Simulations typically generate participant involvement, motivation and interest. There is often a competitive motivation, an informal and social style, there is relatively quick feedback, and they stimulate the ‘right-brain’ activities of imagination, judgement, risk and decision making under uncertainty.
Below are listed a few simulation / games developed/produced by Andrew Martin, some in collaboration with students.
References
Elgood, C. (1997) The handbook of management games 6-Ed., Aldershot, UK, Gower.
Gibbs, G. and Habeshaw, T. (1989) Preparing to teach. Technical and Educational Services Ltd, Bristol UK

Contract and Construct

Contract and Construct is a dynamic and interactive computer-based simulation for experiential learning of some of the fundamental principles of project management. It has been well received by participants from academia and industry alike and developed over a number of years. It provides an excellent stimulus for student interaction, discussion and debate, with an engaging and light-hearted approach.
The context is the construction of a chemical plant with a simulated timescale of 450 days and budget of £7m.
There is a particular focus on contractor management for the different activities. It teaches generic principles, with specific but non-technical content, and includes realistic insights from construction projects for realism, gained from consulting work and industry contacts.
It is suitable for informal ice breaking and team building roles as well as for supporting formal teaching. It is suitable for up to 10 groups of 1-3 players per session.
The computer releases the participant from detailed calculations, and the tutor from detailed rule explanations; it manages the process and content and can generate feedback.
C&C; site with on-line demonstration and full information
Reference:
Martin, A. (2000) A simulation engine for custom project management education. International Journal of Project Management 18 (3) June 2000, 201-213, ISSN 0263-7863.

MIS Project Manager

MIS Project Manager (formerly known as the Information Systems Project Manager Game) is a dynamic and interactive computer-based simulation for experiential learning of some of the fundamental principles of Information Systems development project management.
It provides an excellent stimulus for student interaction, discussion and debate, with an engaging and light-hearted approach.
The context is the development of a generic information system with 18 activities, 250 days and a £1.1m budget.
It teaches generic principles of IS development, with specific but non-technical ISD content and realistic insights, gained from experience and the literature.
The game is suitable for informal ice breaking and team building roles as well as for supporting formal teaching.
It is suitable for up to 10 groups of 1-3 players per session.
The computer releases the participant from detailed calculations, and the tutor from detailed rule explanations; it manages the process and content and can generate feedback.
Web-site with on-line demonstration and full information
References:
Martin A, Christiaens H, and Brown S. (1999) A customizable, computer-based interactive information systems development project simulation. In Saunders D and Severn J (Eds.) The International Simulation & Gaming Research YearBook Vol. 7, London: Kogan Page, pp 229-241.
Martin, A. (2000) The evolution of an Information Systems Development simulation. Simulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

The MIS Game

The MIS Game is a dynamic interactive board game / simulation for experiential learning. It provides teaching support for IS development concepts where the social factor arising from the tangible board game implementation is helpful. Winner of award for the most innovative teaching paper, UKAIS conference, Cranfield 1996.
It is used for teaching and training in the principles of IS development or software engineering projects.
It provides a stimulus for student interaction, discussion and debate, and has been used by industry and academic groups. It teaches general principles of systems development rather than particular applications, with realistic practical insights based on experience.
The game is suitable for informal ice breaking and team building roles as well as for supporting formal teaching, for up to 3 groups of 4-9 players per tutor.
The introduction requires 10-15 minutes; the game requires about 1.5 hours, and debrief about 20 minutes.
The board game is particularly useful where a social learning process is desired, providing a familiar setting. The board has an outer loop for management issues and an inner loop for systems development issues, clearly separating these elements. Various controls including luck cards, planned opportunities and use of the dice generate progress around the board. See a picture of the board.
Learning points include awareness of the systems development life-cycle with associated management issues such as choice of tools, acquiring and managing resources, user involvement and hazards such as delays and on-costs, poor coding, not consulting users; ‘Experience’ of driving a project, balancing and trading off the conflicting performance objectives; decisions have to be made under uncertainty and their consequences have to be faced.
Further details can be supplied on request.
Reference:
Martin, A. (2000) The evolution of an Information Systems Development simulation. Simulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

The Campus Information Game

The Campus Information Game is an information-finding ‘treasure hunt’ game to help new students or other recruits’ orientation within a new campus environment or other large site such as a hospital or other large organisation.
A set of clues or questions is distributed to participants; answers are found primarily by touring the campus on foot. Success is measured by being the group that gains the most points – by answering most questions correctly, by collecting designated artifacts and by making perceptive reflections.
It is a ‘frame-game’, meaning that it can (and obviously must) be easily adapted to other locations or related purposes.
It also acts as a team-building game, stimulating student interaction in groups, and has been used by Warwick Business School as part of a course induction program.
The Campus Information Game has a key secondary theme of information quality that is particularly appropriate for students of information systems, informatics or communications.
It is suitable for any number of groups of 4-8 participants. Playing time is two to three hours and debriefing time is 20-30 minutes.
A sample questionnaire and instructions are available here, and further details available on request.
Reference:
Martin, A. (2006) THE CAMPUS INFORMATION GAME. Simulation and Gaming: an Interdisciplinary Journal 37: 124-133, Sage. DOI: 10.1177/1046878106286190.