The business simulation concept should solve a range of issues
The plan of the main screens and the management areas
To identify the suitable game for the participant, you should study the subject area out. E.g. if we are talking about the management of an industrial enterprise, then we may create a model of the main production areas, starting from input resources and the technological process up to the final product. In the sphere of retail sales, we may provide the following screens: location selection map, screens for sales management, logistics, human resources, procurement, administrative and economic part.
For each management sphere, it is worth identifying and reflecting the key management parameters and macro-indicators in the concept. E.g. the key features for retail sales management are a line of goods, prices, promotions, loyalty programs, etc., as well as the seasonal factors which are beyond the player's control. Traffic, conversion, average purchase amount would be considered as the macro indicators. A script and a plot
A script and a plot are illustrative of the initial conditions of the game, goals, player's capabilities, scenario and the result, expected after the simulation is over. Below are three examples of the script.
- In the beginning, the player can work on a low-capacity production area. When the game is underway, the player should increase the enterprise capacity, efficiently allocate resources at each step, and plan product release and sales. The player's goal is to get the maximum profit. Some unforeseen events happen during the game, e.g. raw materials prices rise, loan rates change.
- The player has some fixed resources: the store and a flow of customers, the last one depends on the season and is beyond the players' control. The player's goal is to manage available resources to maintain balance at every step. At the beginning of the game, the store runs at a low level, and the player's task is to debug and to improve processes, to reduce costs, to increase sales and to attract more customers. The player's success criterion is the store's profit.
- The player has some area (region or district), where he needs to place some objects (outlets, branches, centers) with a specific influence area, costs, and indicators. When the game is underway, the player should gain the greatest influence on the given area, he should expand all available resources and allocate them effectively. The player's goal is to gain the maximum influence and get the maximum profit. Some unforeseen events happen during the game, e.g. new players may appear, the political situation may change.
The description of the built-in testing mechanism, the evaluation of advance in the participant's knowledge and skills, and the feedback mechanism. It is typically located in the player's profile and reflects the current progress and the overall result in the business simulation. If the model of knowledge assessment allows interpreting the results, then the system can provide participant's results assessment, and identify development areas and recommended activities. Game mechanics and engagement tools
Simple game mechanics include ratings, levels, badges (various small rewards provided to the player for his activity). More complex mechanics are the tutorial scripts and training quests, that display the advance in knowledge and skills in the player's profile. Basic game and training cycle
The game cycle is a detailed version of the game performance with its timing of each action. It helps you determine the approximate time needed to complete the game. Evaluation of development period and costs
When you have created the concept that solves all the mentioned issues, the iterative process of the business simulation development goes into action. I'm going to talk about it in the second part of the article.