People learn best by doing.
Simulations and learning games that use technology to create real-world
feel-like-you're-there actions provide the opportunity to engage, have fun, and truly learn. Much of this work is rooted in
experiential learning now with a techno-twist.
A recent IDC survey stated that "by 2008 the use of simulations will quadruple.... Simulations provide a parallel universe in which employees hone their skills... Innovative companies have realized this, and others will
This article reviews the field of simulation and games-based learning and the tools you might want to
employ given your objectives, budget, and industry.
Simulations have been used to help people learn for
decades in pilot education and firefighting. Online simulations
run the gamut from complicated mathematical models to people-skills development tools. Some
simulations are all online and others mix in real-world in-person rehearsals that follow
your time online. You'll find a little bit of everything here—and the
field still have light years to grow.
Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games by
Clark N. Quinn, forward by Marcia Conner. (Pfeiffer, 2005)
Learning by Doing: A Comprehensive Guide to Simulations, Computer Games,
and Pedagogy in e-Learning and Other Educational Experiences by
Clark Aldrich. (John Wiley & Sons, 2005)
Simulations and the Future of Learning by Clark Aldrich "fits
between chapters 19 and 20 of Learning by Doing." While each supports
the other, they can be read independently or in either order.
What Video Games Have to Teach Us
About Learning and Literacy by
James Paul Gee
Learning, e-Learning, and Training: Perspectives and Guidance for the
Enlightened Trainer by
Roger C. Schank
e-Learning Activities: Making Online Learning Interactive
by Ryan Watkins
by Marc Prensky (McGraw-Hill, 2004)
MX for Interactive Simulation: How to Construct & Use
Device Simulations by Jonathan Kaye, PhD and
David Castillo (Delmar
Learning, 2002) Companion CD-ROM with full source code.
Got Game by John C. Beck, Mitchell Wade
A Theory of Fun for Game Design by
Book review: Advanced Web-based Training Strategies
Michael Schrage's book
Serious Play focuses on the value of prototypes and simulations in business. Outstanding!
Useful magazines & journals
Simulation & Gaming: An International Journal of Theory, Practice, and
"Performance-Based Simulations: Customizable Tool"
by Kellye Whitney. Chief Learning
Officer Magazine, October 2004. The use of performance-based simulation learning tools to educate
the enterprise is growing rapidly due to the decisive success rates of
specialized, interactive content that teaches leaders high-level
business acumen in a real-world, risk-free setting. Companies like
Accenture, IBM, SimuLearn and OutStart have expanded performance testing
from mildly interactive e-learning programs into full-fledged training
development software and content-authoring tools, which may be
customized to fit any organization’s needs.
Natural Funativity: Why Games are Fun
10, 2004. What makes a game fun? It's a question that seems central to the process
of making good games. But it's an elusive and subjective question. The
dictionary defines 'fun' as a source of amusement or enjoyment, but
that's not very helpful. And yet somehow, for years we have been
creating games without really understanding why we human beings find
some activities to be fun and others boring, pointless or worse. It's
not too surprising, since humans have also been creating art for at
least 30,000 years and we're still arguing about how to define it. To
paraphrase the old saying, we may not be able to describe fun, but we
know it when we have it. But game designers are an inquisitive lot, and
in recent years there has finally been some significant progress in
getting close to the answer of just what fun is all about.
(This article requires you to
join the Gamasutra online community -- free).
"Start up your own start-up: Business simulation game is a little too much like work"
by Liane Gouthro. PC World, June 9, 2000
Shocking the Legacy Mindset"
Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential
Learning, Volume 31, 2004. "This paper presents
business professionals with a primer on Internet
business strategy and serves as a design guide for
future Internet business simulation efforts. It
introduces the obstacles that simulation designers
face when codifying a business model that is
grounded in unproven
theory. By using strategic frameworks and viable
metrics found in the literature, the Impact Internet
simulation design achieves face validity and offers
business managers a realistic surrogate for
experience. Just as information technology progress
has been slowed by the need to integrate with legacy
systems, the new business opportunities available on
the Internet have been slowed by the legacy mindsets
of traditionally trained managers.
[There are many more articles written about simulations but I haven't
had a chance to do an exhaustive search. As I find them, I will post
them here. If you know of an article that can be read online please let
Articles that require you to be a paid subscriber
"Simulations: The Next Generation of E-Learning" by Sarah Boehle.
Training, January 2005
"From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games" by Michael Zayda.
IEEE Computer, September 2005, pp. 25-32.
Websites & Related Resources
on their Simulation environment
The e-Learning Guild has published the
Soft Skills Simulations Report
associates and members
This report follows up on our report on usage and best practices of
simulations in e-Learning, The e-Learning Simulations Report published
in February 2005, and it focuses on e-Learning simulations.
report follows up on our report on usage and best practices of
simulations in e-Learning, The e-Learning Simulations Report published
in February 2005, and it focuses on e-Learning simulations that teach
"soft skills." According to Stephen Alessi and Stanley Trollip in their
book, Multimedia for Learning, these types of simulations are often
referred to as situational. Their primary objective is to teach the
student how to deal with behaviors and attitudes of people. Situational
simulations can include Role Play, Sales Processes, and Business
decision-making and analysis.
Serious Games Initiative
Jeremy Hall's Simulations Site
Simulation: Virtual Business Experience
Sim Resource is a mega-source of simulations to buy and sell.
ACM Special Interest Group on Simulation (SIGSIM)
Association for Business Simulations & Experiential Learning (ABSEL) is an American based association "whose purpose is to develop and promote the use of experiential techniques, simulations and assessment in the field of business education and development." It
focuses on business simulation and especially computerized simulations
with a strong academic bias.
Australian Simulation and Games Association
Context is a National Centre and Network for promoting the use of case materials and simulations in higher education and employment.
They are funded by The Partnership Trust and coordinated by The University of Leeds with the Careers Research Advisory Centre. Context has been established with the aim of promoting the use of case materials in higher education and employment. Case materials are designed to meet the needs of students for group working, decision making and experience of work. They are based as closely as possible on real work situations and issues (in business, government and the voluntary sector).
They look towards employers to help them develop materials and promote their use.
Federation of Europrean Simulation Societies
International Simulation and Gaming Association
(ISAGA) is a virtual international organization for scientists and practitioners developing and using gaming, simulations and related methodologies (computerized simulation, policy exercises, role-play, experiential exercises, play, case studies, structured experiences, game theory, operational gaming). The aim of the association is to enhance and stimulate the development, application and use of these methods in the social, human and technological domains throughout the world.
Internet Clearinghouse for Simulation/Gaming Resources
Japan Association of Simulation and Gaming
North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA)
Operational Research Society
Simulation/Gaming eXchange (SGX)
Società Italiana dei Giochi di Simulazione
for Applied Learning Technology (SALT)
Society for Computer Simulation (SCS)
Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research
Society for the Advancement of Games and Simulations in Education and Training
Who's building simulation tools
Listed below are companies creating online simulations today. This list isn't yet ordered or sorted in any way...
and not all of the links actually work yet, but over time we'll qualify
and describe each organization in our words (rather than their own).
Currently it's a list of what we know about.
Magazine provides a thorough list of companies providing simulations.
International's e-Learning Arcade
Blueline SimulationsIn the printing business, a blueline is a final check to verify
camera work, folding, or trimming and is almost “invisible” to the
camera. We at Blueline Simulations also work in the background to
provide a unique service to organizations exploring training through
simulations. The Blueline process is very straightforward. First, we
utilize our extensive industry expertise to assess prospective clients'
needs and opportunities. Second, we determine which simulation
solution(s) - either within our network of innovative strategic partners
or elsewhere in the market -- can deliver the most on-target, on-budget
result. Third, we assume accountability for the implementation process
as an extension of the client to ensure success for all stakeholders. In
short, Blueline delivers expertise, selection and accountability.
BrandGamesis a New
York-based youth marketing company that uses broadband digital media to
build brand relationships with today's digital consumers. BrandGames
pioneered the use of videogames as a media platform, and the strategy of
Convergence Marketing™: developing sustainable relationships with
consumers by layering and linking convergent communications throughout
their daily experience in an integrated campaign. GAP, General Mills,
and Reebok are BrandGames clients who recognize that for an entire
generation, videogame dynamics inform virtually every aspect of their
world, from graphics to music to language and fashion.
Capsim: Business simulations being used by 250+ universities and
Change at work (custom)
CognitiveArts, a division of NIIT (founded by Roger Schank)
Equipment Simulations LLC develops e-Learning to teach and assess equipment operation skills using
a 'learn by doing' approach, which replicates on-the-job experience, but
in a safe and measurable way. Also visit the
FlashSim.com site to find out in detail about our efficient
simulation methodologies, our free simulation newsletter
Experience Builders Experience
Builders LLC (EBL) believes that simulations should be a central
component of any e-learning strategy. “Our whole crux for existence is
this notion that simulations are a very effective way to train in many
different contexts,” said John Cleave, co-founder, Experience Builders
Games 2 Learn
Learning Sciences (Roger Schank's department at NWU)
Professional, a division of Kaplan, Inc., has acquired the assets of
Software Training Technology, Ltd. (STT)
Inc. (KDI) creates educational simulations that engage cognitive skills
to teach complex systems or processes to help the user quickly advance
on-the-job reaction time and gain knowledge.
software (Garden with Insight)
(mostly finance-related, case-based learning)
Publications (Management Accounting Simulations)
Ninth House Network is a company we've followed for several years
because of their innovative approach to simulation-based professional
and leadership development. See a demonstration simulation for yourself.
See a demo
of the Beer Game)
accelerates executive learning, improves performance, and trains
successful behavior by simulating human behavior in complex, everyday
PriSim Business War Games Inc. has
2-3 day business training courses designed to develop mid-
to senior-level management's strategic, financial and general business
acumen. Their simulation software models the operations of a working,
growing business and allows course attendees to run their simulated
company as "CEO for the Day" in competition with other teams at your
company. In addition, during the 2-3 days they cement core business
principles in a series of lectures and discussions between competitive
rounds. Our courses stress the need to align the different elements
involved in managing and running a company to produce profit. As
competitors make strategic moves and as customer's values change in the
marketplace, course attendees must quickly make decisions across several
functional areas. These functional decisions play out in the overall
business performance of the simulated company. PriSim's courses provide
managers with a proving-ground where new ideas can be tested and new
ProfitAbility Business Simulations
is a global company with 17 years experience, dedicated to designing
learning material and experiential simulations that produce immediate
practical results. Their expertise lies in helping all employees learn
through experience and making sure that they can apply their learning
directly to their jobs.
Simulations International is a global
simulation outsourcing provider and consultancy. We focus solely on the
simulation industry by providing upfront simulation consulting,
education, assessments, simulation vendor matching, evaluations and
analysis so organizations can reduce time, man hours and costs for
implementation of simulation projects. SI has developed SimMATCH, the
largest "simulation library" on the market to provide a single point of
access to the ever-growing simulation industry. SI’s experts work with
clients to determine applicability of simulations as well as the
requirements necessary to match the best simulation to their initiative.
The SimMATCH library encompasses all types of simulations in all
industries and includes vendors, simulations (off-the-shelf and custom),
software tools and developers. SimSTART is a one day educational
workshop dedicated to helping employees build a foundation and increase
their understanding and utilization of simulations.
Inc. has a suite of application tools and simulation products. Each uses
an engine with voice-recognition software to actually listen to the user
and provide immediate, interactive feedback to train employees on
products and services or screen potential employees for appropriate
skill sets in the call center or customer service industry.
Stock Market Game
Management Group (SMG)
Strategic Management Group,
The Shared Vision
Alliance created the Equine Business Experience
Thinkingtools. Think2000 is a business risk management
simulation that uses what they call Agent Based Adaptive Simulation
technology. Pretty interesting!
Water Cooler Games
Know of other simulation resources?
Let us know.
What types of games are being created?
Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)
Massively Multiplayer Simulation (MMP)
Agent-Based gaming, Avatars, and Distributed environments
Game based Learning
Simulations and Games for Strategy and Policy Planning
Business Gaming Using Expert Systems
Simulations Utilizing Problem Solving Tools
Customizable, Computer-based Interactive Simulations
Simulation gaming for
reference this page in a report or article, the citation should read:
Conner, M. L. "Simulations
and Learning e-Games." Ageless Learner, 1997-2006.