Example of a simulation idea
[*disclaimer* this is simply an idea, but if you do wish to expand it, then please give credit where credit is due and/or contact æStranger.com, thank you]
A simulation can be done with any theme really, personally, I’ve helped deliver one where the idea to create a news program and then perform a live 30-minute news set piece. I’ve developed and delivered one that centers around a shopping channel and participants must select and develop products in teams to deliver in a 20–30-minute shopping channel “episode”. Other ideas center around a murder mystery concept, a variety program, corporate crisis, social crisis like a terrorist attack, and so forth. The list is almost endless.
For my example, I’ve decided to take a fairly straight-forward idea from my youth and that is the “drama” workshop or better known as a Recorded Stage Production.
Let’s break it down in terms of its gamification pieces:
- Goal: To deliver a successful stage production of a chosen dramatic piece.
Participants can therefore perhaps choose from a pre-determined selection of theatrical pieces that last 30-minutes or a part of a piece that lasts 30-minutes. I suggest a pre-selection process as you will be able to determine how many people can feasibly take part so that there aren’t people left hanging around doing nothing because the group decided to go for a smaller easier choice.
- Effectively selecting roles within a certain time
- Learning the appropriate skills for the production within a certain time
- Rehearsing effectively — all roles, not just the acting parts
- Creating, designing and developing a set for the production
- Technical expertise: lighting, set replacement, props, etc…
These are example challenges, there are many more, but the list would become too long. From those 5 points, you should get an idea of what people would need to go through during the day to be able to achieve the end-goal.
- Learning: team-work, communication, working under pressure, etc…
The general idea is to take them out of their comfort zone and still apply the knowledge they gained in the previous days and the new knowledge and skills they’ve learned to achieve this. It should help develop what I like to call comfort-zone flexibility or elasticity, along with their inter-disciplinary skill awareness. And naturally, their creativity and innovation brain muscles, as they won’t have the budget for a real stage production.
- Win / Loss State: Fixed time to deliver the “live” production after the allotted time for the day
Naturally, there needs to be a win or loss, or reward and consequence. The win/reward is the achievement of having delivered the production on time and successfully. A pass if you want to be a traditionalist and educational about it. The loss/consequence is not being able to deliver on time or at all. This is a failure but should be used as a learning and reflection point, rather than the effort being ignored. As it’s only a simulation and should be a meaningful experience none the less.
These are the basic points you would need to develop your own if you so wished. Naturally, there are many more things, such as the number of people needed, what learning objectives, equipment needed, space required, length of experience and so on. But hopefully, it gives you a basic idea of where to start.
As you have seen a role-play simulation is an effective learning tool to bring together people, theory, concepts, contexts and many other things. As long as it is all done correctly. Only a well-designed simulation will bring across what you require it to. One way of figuring whether it is well-designed is by running a pilot of the idea. If everyone walks away bored, then it was a failure, if they all walk away happy but are not sure what they learned thanks to it, then it was a failure. If they all walk away happy and energized by what they learned and are able to apply it in their daily lives, then it was a success.
Remember that it will be an enjoyable and challenging experience as long as you design it in such a way that it does have real consequences and believable outcomes. People are quite good at using knowledge if they are required to achieve a win and avoid a loss. It’s almost instinctual for us.
I will say that the main problem you will come across though, and this neither a failure nor a success is that you will have a lack of immersion in the overall day due to the time pressure. But if the concept is solid then often the contextual explanation and delivery by you of the experience to the participants will dictate how successful the buy-in. So, practice those oratory skills.
The final piece I’ll leave you with is that if you wish to achieve a “gold standard” level product with a role-play simulation, that can rival an ARG in time and monetary commitment, then there really only are a few differing factors. The immersion level, the narrative theme, the types of challenges, and most importantly; what do you want to achieve from it and do you want your participants to learn and leave with?