Games are now seen as powerful educational tools. For executive education games have to appeal to demographics which include older people and those who might not usually play computer games. However, we have found there are not many games available about servitization – one reason for this may be, that computer games have historically been expensive to produce, making them infeasible for niche markets. One proposed solution to this is to reduce the cost of production using a gaming engine such as Unity. This time last year we tested a prototype game, developed in Unity, here at the Spring Servitization Conference, and I am here to report the results of that games test.
A team of mixed servitzation and games experts designed the game. The table shows how long it took – about 40h for the servitization experts to get an understanding of how games work The same to work through several servitization scenarios and to select the beer one for development The longest time was spent role playing and other activities to develop the dialogues and finally 50 hours to actually implement the game The hierarchy on the right shows how dialogues are implemented in Unity – each branchpoint is a dialogue choice and is followed by a different potential route through the game.
Some of you may remember the game itself from the experiments last year. It starts in a pub where the beer is bad. It is the player’s aim to talk to various people in the supply chain, the bar lady, a brewer and an equipment manufacturer, and to find a way to make sure the bar is supplied with consistently good beer in future.
The black area at the bottom presents the player various dialogue options, some of which are service design choices. The better the choices the player makes – the more like advanced services they are - the more points the player earns – and the more beer is poured in their glass.
For the game to be useful to teach managers about servitization it has to be playable by non stereotypical gamers. The cohort of people at the conference are reasonably like this group – the 45 volunteers who took part in the games test were typically older than 35 and didn’t play games much. They do however differ from our target group in that many of them already knew about servitization.
After they had played the game, they were given an exit questionnaire with Lickert scale usability questions about their reactions to the game and how easy it was to play and learn.
On average reactions were mid range with the exceptions of difficult-easy and rigid-flexible, implying the players found the game fairly easy but somewhat rigid. Time to learn was also higher than the mid range which isn’t surprising for people who had not played a game of this type before.
One thing we wanted to know was whether games were suitable for the non stereotypical gamers. These are parallel coordinate plots, each curve is the responses of one participant for a number of the questions – I can show you how the HighD data exploration tool works in the break. The pairs of plots show the same curves left to right but I have highlighted different sets of users In the left hand plot at the top - the far left axis is age, the older players are highlighted – and in the right hand plot the younger ones – as you can see there is no pattern – there was no difference in reaction for these groups. – older players don’t like the game less than younger players. The lower plot looks at how easy or difficult the game was to learn, difficult easy is the right hand axis - and on the left whether or not the participant said they were an experienced gamer. The plot on the left highlights the people who found the game easy to learn – and they were gamers of all levels of experience including non gamers. The plot on the right highlights the people who found the game difficult to learn- the people who find it hard to learn aren’t experienced gamers we’d expect that – however it should be stressed that there were no statistically significant differences between inexperienced and experienced groups. The conclusion is that the game is playable by non stereotypical gamers.
However this is an serious game – just being playable isn’t enough - we wanted to know if you could learn something about servitization from it. On this point there was a significant difference between the servitization experts and the novices – not on the question of whether they personally might learn from the game – although the novices scored higher on that, but on whether they thought a novice might learn from it. The novices were significantly more confident on that point perhaps reflecting the high sophistication of the experts’ knowledge on this – they may have set the bar for learning higher than we intended.
To summarise, we found that the Unity games engine could produce a game that was playable by our cohort, without great production costs. We also benchmarked against a business game taxonomy, that’s in the paper but I don’t have time to go through it here, the conclusion is that it lacks challenge, so our next step will be to wrap the dialogue around a more challenging simulation.
SSC 2015 beer game evaluation
Victoria Uren & Panagiotis Petridis
This Beer is Off!
building a dialogue game
Business Games have been used for education &
executive development since Management Decision
Simulator (Meier et al 1969)
Potential to engage learners in very positive ways
Few examples relevant to servitzation e.g. (Nemoto et al
Barriers to adoption include high game development
Platforms such as Unity (http://unity3d.com/ ) aim to
reduce these costs
Implementation of iServe
Game mechanics including learning points & scenario
developed in two workshops with servitization &
serious games experts
Implemented in Unity as a dialogue game
Stage Person hours(h)
Game Mechanics 44
Scenario Development 44
Dialogue Scripting 132
iServe: the ‘Beer is Off’ Game
Aim: to solve the problem of bad beer in a
Learning point: Basic, Intermediate and
Mechanics: Dialogue based, players must
make service design decisions based on
information provided by non-player
Points: players gain higher points if they
choose actions that would lead to
Game test at SSC 2014
older than 35,
low gaming experience
high servitization expertise,
Focus on usability
Ease of use
not a gamer
Learning to play the game
learning to operate the interface 5.8(2.4)
time to learn to use the interface 6.4(2.3)
Effects of Age and Gaming Experience
No statistically significant difference (t-tests 5%) on any of
the key usability questions for younger or more
Does the game teach about servitization
Did you learn about servitization
from the game?
do you think a novice would learn
about servitization from the game?
Significant difference (t-tests 5%) for the second question.
Novices are more confident of the potential of the game to
teach about servitization.
Playable game environments can be generated using
game engine technology in realistic time-frames.
Virtual environments are usable by the target audience of
Current game is rather basic (benchmarked against
Business game taxonomy of (Greco et al 2013)) - lacks
Next steps include wrapping the virtual environment
around a simulation to increase challenge.
Meier, R. C., Newell, W. T., & Pazer, H. L. (1969). Simulation
in Business and Economics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Nemoto, Y., Uei, K., Fujiwara, T., Mizoguchi, S., &
Shimomura, Y. (2014). Strategic Thinking in EDIPS:
Edutainment for Designing Integrated Product - Service
System. Procedia CIRP, 16, 92–97.
Greco, M., Baldissin, N., & Nonino, F. (2013). An
exploratory taxonomy of business games. Simulation
and Gaming, 44(5), 645–682.