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Can simulation lead to negotiation?

In our latest installment on gaming, let's focus on how we can make the best use of the skills developed through gaming and get people to share their experiences and achievements.

It may sound superficial but actually it is important to make the best use of the skills developed through gaming: entrepreneurial games are often more effective than providing guides to set up a business, negotiation games enable people to engage in artificial conflict and confront them with conflicting interests, while cognitive games encourage people around prevention and rehabilitation from poor health.

Entrepreneurial

With the impact of the recession, a game which teaches important tips on being self employed in a no risk environment can be more effective than providing guides to doing businesses for people with no experience of it. Likewise a game that spreads awareness of the financial crisis to young people through encouraging them to submit ideas to tackle this in their lives is a way of linking personal experiences and current affairs – humanising the recession. Other examples enable you to manage your own energy production company or design an offshore wind farm. This could potentially take existing games that have been created by the public services a step further, especially games for literacy and numeracy and children.

These types of games need to link up to other tools used to improve entrepreneurial skills. With that in mind, you could explore the potential of using scenario-based game to develop an on-line tool to help small businesses assess their innovation performance.



Negotiation

With the growing contradictory demands that individuals face, not just citizens but staff working in more multi agency settings than before, negotiating skills are key and yet undervalued. Games which get people to engage in negotiating, especially in artificial conflict and confront them with conflicting interests could be adapted for this.

When negotiation involves legal expertise, especially when simulating scenarios in court (such as in social services), you need to think very carefully about whether a game is the best tool for this.
Why not instead test the viability of using gaming with negotiation training?

Cognitive

With the tension between the cost of social care for the elderly and growing life expectancy, encouraging older people to improve their cognitive skills is essential, both for prevention and rehabilitation, especially where the social impact can be evidenced . Learning from current practice in the council shows that focusing on gaming software is much more practical than producing new hardware that may only be useful for the group of people it was designed for.

Evaluate impact

It’s not enough just assuming that the techniques will work, using analytics to understand how people behave in the game is also necessary, especially with the lack of evaluations of the social impact of gaming in general, with this (where KCC was involved as a partner) as a rare exception.

However, we can build on innovative use of analytics in this area, such as through using background analysis to inform broad scenarios, monitoring people’s journeys through geo-coordinates, via SMS texts or simulating real time data to mimic actual life conditions.

The risk is that given assumptions about lack of social impact of gaming, it is crucial to develop metrics to measure this. Why not explore opportunities to join up testing tools with research on knowledge management or the semantic web?

It’s also particularly important to enable the players themselves to use analytics to monitor their own performance – whether that’s tracking your acts with other players or calculating your carbon footprint.

For more advanced use, focusing on researchers or analysts as users, you can link up to datasets which can be simulated within the game. This requires technical expertise that can enable both the gaming program and the databases to interact and this skillset is most commonly found within universities and ICT R&D labs, such as Sony’s collaboration with Stanford University or Imperial College’s links with IBM and EON Reality.

Get people to share their experiences and achievements

People will feel far more engaged in an activity if they feel ownership over it and valued for their contribution. Using tools which enable people to write their experiences (or even take photos) and chronicling their own scenarios provides feedback and would build on existing online engagement.

Without engaging prior to this exercise, it is difficult to develop trust with users through the game. Why not use the
game as a form of engagement on the issue covered in its own right?

If you want to find out more about what we're thinking about and looking at around simulation & gaming, see here. Contact us if you have an idea.
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