Simulation games have gone a long journey from simple 70’s evolution simulators, such as John Conway’s Game Of Life, to flight control simulators, like the 747 training cockpits for future pilots. The purpose of simulation is simple; to virtually create life-like conditions for educational purposes (and recreational I guess). The benefits? Risk factors are zero, as no actual damage can be done, which helps users to learn from mistakes and success alike.

Helsinki based Cesim have done their homework on the subject; their browser based marketing management simulation games incorporate a range of economics related concepts to help participants understand the interconnections with business decisions in realistic market environments.

Their idea is to make business studies more practical and interesting with the help of a game that simulates real-life like market environments. The game is competitive; students are divided into teams that will compete against each other with a single objective – winning.

The teams start off from equal positions and will be subjected to the same market conditions throughout the simulation. The game advances through rounds, during which the teams will have to make decisions based on their evaluation of their current and/or expected situation. Each decision will start a new round and the decisions will have a  direct influence on the other teams results. It’s important to note that the matches are created by the players, meaning there is no artificial intelligence against whom to compete, only the other teams.

The game teaches how important teamwork is just as much as is teaches the cruciality of facts as a support for actions. Of course, time limit will show that reactions are required as quickly as possible.

The grades can be evaluated based on different factors, depending on the games weight on the overall grade of the course. Examples of performances that should be evaluated include team reports, individual participation and peer reports, but the teams final results should be weighed the most.

While general business management is simulated by Cesim, Romanian startup Simbound has taken a step deeper and specialized itself in e-marketing simulations. Their ace in the sleeve relies on tailor made content, which, when implemented in their games, creates more realistical competitive environments for students to learn even more. A player community around the world provides support and hints for other players which Simbound believes increases player devotion.  As e-marketing will a more major role in future companies, Simbound teaches newcomers how to learn the ropes in a risk-free environment, with benefits that will come in handy when it’s time step in the big shoes.

Simbound is priced at €50/licence (with bulk orders going down to €35/licence), while Cesim has an ongoing demolaunch (preferably for teachers), with larger orders discuss able with their sales reps.

Still, with all these technicalities, rules and virtual realities, it all comes down to one single question. Why not simply study normally?

Studying can’t all be just fun and games, that goes without saying, but specific courses have and will focus on different methods of teaching. Simulations may not overthrow the entire learning system as we know it, but it will make it more up-to-date. Simulations brings the students close to real-life situations where they will get a first hand idea of the real pressures and challenges the business world is filled with. Failure, and success alike, may bring along a certain grade from the task, but it will also teach the students valuable lessons of how things work outside the books. Isn’t experience just as valuable as knowledge?

The basics for both Simbound and Cesim are similar, yet their field of expertise have rooted into different sections of simulation games. This is why it may not come as a complete surprise these two have formed a partnership that has set sail to becoming the number one edtech provider worldwide.

Unlike their simulations though, their trip is for real.

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