The group on Virtual Environment and Systems (VES) arranged a panel session on challenges and barriers of using gaming for and in engineering applications as a part of the ASME 2014 (American Society of Mechnical Engineers). The two main intentions with the session were to nurture the use of games in the field of engineering as well as to collect feedback on the GALA roadmap on those topics related to the application of games in the field of enigneering.
Even though gaming methods and technologies have been used within the engineering field for decades, there are still several barriers to overcome before gamebased applications will enfold to their full potential within this field.
This is not only a matter of the limitations in the underlying simulation models, and the embedding of games and gaming techniques in real development processes and education, but also the confusion of the terminology and definition of what serious games (SG) actually represent.

In order to drive the development within gaming and engineering further, it is important to define the boundaries of the gaming systems and applications, and to identify the potential barriers within the field of mechanical engieering. The panel (Dr. Theo Lim from Heriot-Watt, Dr. Robert Wendrich, University Twente and Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge, Bremer institut für Produktion und Logistik at the University of Bremen) drove the discussion also reflecting the work carried out by the working group on the GALA roadmap for engineering and manufacturing applications.
23 Persons representing fields like HCI, CAD/CAM, NUI etc from educational and industrial sectors participated in the discussion starting out with a perception of what games, gamification, VR and VES are, concluding that the most relevant factor for engineering in this respect is the concept of play.

Based upon this the discussion strived towards production systems, tools and when the tool for implementation and operation is a box full of toys (toolbox) being useful for the production process.

Three main tools were identitfied

  1. Freedom to choose the tool you feel comfortable with providing ubiquities interfaces
  2. The possibility to convert “happy little accidents” (concept of accepting failures as learning experience and knowledge building) (Bob Ross) to successful factors for driving development and understanding
  3. Creativity as tool to understand what production systems could and should be

A main barrier identified in this discussion was the limitation of the references, represented in a rather conservative tradition of mechanical engineering based on findings being measureables. There was a general consensus that it is important to have an open discussion allowing diverging  ideas of this conservative domain, including elements of play, playfulness and enjoy, not only limitied to the Ideation part of the innovation process but also within the requirements engineering process, design and construction. The outcome would be more resilient system design processes, triggering the high innovative potential of efficient production systems. It was discussed the constraints of control theory and concluded that games supporting the creativity and reducing the stress by bringing motivation and enjoy into the process in a more efficient way.
Also discussed were different aspects related to ethics of using games in different settings, but as long as the process is transparant, honest and non-judgemental it is more a matter of legal and organisational culture and not of gaming as such.

Along the way we will explore design direction in gameplay, simuation and user interfaces- it is only a matter of openness, no pre conceived notions, not falling back to the existing systems.

In this connection the discussion moved towards the aspects of interoperability aspects that are essential for the coupling gaming and VR, without differentiating in how you process (traditional or gamebased) and as long as the work is done, so that different approaches can be selected based on individual preferences and the requirements of the task to be executed.

The element of competitiveness was also considered as a healthy element as long as it is a postive driver and not a limitating factor based on fear. Games do represent a fearless environment to get the flow of creativity going within production systems.

It was a lively and intense discussion, and it was brought up by one of our participant to continue the fruitful disucssion within the ASME VES community. The panel likes to thank all participants for this valuable contribution and would like to invite both these and new participants to contribute to this dicussion both within ASME as well as within GALA community on manfacturing and engineering.

If you would like more information please contact

Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge   

Theo Lim                         

Robert Wendrich                  

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