VSGames workshop on serious games for engineers

The recent VSGames (2012) workshop on serious games to educate engineers has raised some particulalry interesting questions as to whether such games, while useful as a a smulation application, actually trancends into understanding of real-world problems. The workshop presented a holistic view of serious games for engineering and manufactruing but as with most of such games developed, it is often based core rules that govern the simulation outcome. How these rules are pedagogically linked remains a research topic.

Three games were presented, namely COSIGA, SHORTFALL and PLANTVILLE, afterwhich teams were formed to evaluate the games’ fitness for purpose. These games fall under engineering management simulation games. A brief insight to each game was provided.

COSIGA is focused on how the activities of concurrent engineering. The learning outcome is about how to conduct and manage concurrent engineering.

SHORTFALL is focused on supply chain management for sustainable manufacturing. The learning outcome is the understanding of operational tradeoffs.

PLANTVILLE is focused on operations management. The leanring outcome is similar to SHORTFALL in many ways except it simulates the experience of the player as being a plant manager.

It was quite clear through the discussions after playing these games that if it was possible to ascertain even simple game mechanics such as leveliing up had any concrete connection to the improvement of strategic thinking skills. And because of the limited scope which the games address, it would be very difficult to determine if the ability to play the game translates or transfers to actual skills in reality.

When compared to industrial applications such as WITNESS simulation, games such as SHORTFALL and PLANTVILLE fall short of expressing the intended manufacturing paradigms. However, as a tool for learning it does provide an alternative to the conventional pedagogical models used in teaching engineering management.

This workshop has been particularly useful in rasing questions for further investigations into student personel development of skills such as collaboration, inductive reasoning, and contextual transference in problem solving skills through the use of serious games.

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