Serious games for `agile` decision makers

Serious games and education of soft skills is a typical mix, this research is focused on the potential of serious games for identification, development and education of some, very, specific peculiar soft skills. These characteristics correspond to the capability to catch at glance a solid understanding of the details in a scenario or the identification of missing elements in a set of information. This is an interdisciplinary research where expertise in modelling and simulation and serious gaming are mixed with skills in education and decision-making development. The researchers` goal is to define a methodology and a set of games that could support decision makers to develop intuition and the capability to think and understand out of personal frameworks. In particular some efforts are focused on the development of what Napoleon called `coup d`oil, in English at glance: this is the capability to understand at glance, indeed, a situation: for the great Corse general it was referred to how gifted officers could understand how a battle was evolving (a really complex task in the XVIII Century).

Moving away from traditional simulation and gaming products, where the tendency is that of ‘representing’ reality, researchers suggest a training that focuses on developing cognitive skills to recognise what is salient in an Operational Context characterised by a high level of Interactive Complexity. The task should be to trigger disconfirmation that generates rethinking, increase awareness of implicit effect of categorisations to develop their mental agility to move beyond the paradigms of what is obvious to them. A kind of ‘educational path’ is proposed by researchers by creating a set of tools that move from general models to very specific and focalized on local habits and uses scenarios. There are of course benefits and strengths in both approaches: it is clear that if a soldier is deployed in a specific area he has to be aware of local habits, what it is normal and what is not; but at the same time Coup d’Oeil is suitable for training also with exercises not specifically focused on detecting what is ‘not-normal’ in a very specific local scenario. This route should support the user to approach a totally new environment with enhanced capabilities to analyse and understand it without applying classical rigid schemes.

From a technological point of view researches propose to develop games using different kind of supports and architectures: from the simple hand-held device where the serious game is running to a very immersive environment where different senses are involved, such as sight, sound and also smell. By what authors defined a ‘Sensory Box’ they imagine to stimulate the users with different kind of non-coherent stimuli (i.e., the synthetic environment representing an Afghan village with the noise of New York and the smell of grandma’s cookies) to create disorientation and providing different key patterns to be caught.

In the first phase of experimentation authors used a web game multiplayer game named Sibilla developed by Simulation Team, University of Genoa.

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