Building an Organizational Strategy for Meaningful Play

Lindsay Grace, Tony Demarinis and Peter Jamieson

Extended Abstract

This presentation outlines heuristics from converting educational games and simulations from the controlled environments of academic researchers to the rigor and pragmatics of product based solutions in non-game organizations. These observations were collected from an ongoing research and implementation practice collaboration between the top ranked (anonymized) corporate consultancy and the Princeton Review ranked (anonymized) university game research community.

The presentation highlights the challenges of integrating, coordinating and orchestrating discreet purpose-driven game s within an organization.

We offer recommendations for the appropriate development and deployment of such games to support the appropriate attention, support, management and assessment. The presentation shares experience to directly address the following questions in an effort to support the community of meaningful play practitioners toward an effective strategy for bringing academic research into the broader communities.

• What business problems are appropriate for serious games solutions? Through our research we present a synopsis of how organizations currently approach their application of serious games as a solution to corporate/enterprise issues and the risks associated with each approach. In addition we posit a “suitability framework” for identifying Game solution topics and outcomes from an organizational vs initiative based view.

• What are the design criteria that will enable the individual game experiences to integrate with other future games? These include strategies for designing modular game elements that can scale across long term meaningful play strategies, assessments of current simulation and play culture within the target organization and normalizing gameplay experiences across suites of experiences. We have observed that players often suffer confusion, disorientation, and disinterest when they are subjected to wildly different game experiences, rule sets, measurement, and rhetoric within the same organization. We offer techniques for determining an organizationally appropriate play strategy, through play design guides that pervade games and simulation efforts across the organization.

• How can games and simulations drive effective change, strategic decision making and individualized career development across an organization? Beyond increasing data tracking, we leveraging our best thinking on the actionable insights that can be gained through gameplay and how they can optimally benefit the individual and the organization.

In summary this presentation seeks to provide an evidence based strategy for large scale, purpose driven play within large organizations. It opposed the more typical approach to design small, specific games for specific needs and looks more broadly at expected future of such play. We purpose that as more organization commit to such games, they will need to move from widely divergent individual games toward a more global strategy. Much like an organization’s brand and design guides, we champion a strategy that evaluates, identifies and specifies the cross-organizational standards for effective purpose-driven play.

These observations and suggestions are made through an ongoing collaboration that brings a lauded “serious games” academic research team with a highly respected international consultancy. The presenters combine years of experience in game design and management of large scale government projects in games and simulation.