Designing Business Simulation Games for Global Good
A Game Studio’s Approach to Tackling World Problems
Most games are birthed by an idea. Our business simulation games are engineered to solve three of the biggest global problems. They are income inequality, unemployment, and access to education. How do you attempt to tackle these global issues when all you have is a team of average joes? Where do you even begin?
For us, we began with what we loved, video games. That’s how Visionaries was born. First of all, let’s discuss the problems of income inequality, unemployment, and access to education. After we will talk about the birth of Visionaries.
The link between income inequality, unemployment, and access to education is a complex one. Research reveals mixed results on which type of education is most suitable for improving gainful employment and reducing inequality. So, it’s unclear whether it is primary, secondary, or tertiary. But to reduce income inequality and unemployment, we need to democratize access to quality education. A 2019 Oxfam paper written by Jo Walker and co. makes a compelling case for this. The paper is titled The power of education to fight inequality.
Armed with this observation, we broke our goal into three components:
- Core Idea: What sort of education is required to drive job creation and reduce income inequality?
- Delivery Method: How could we help deliver it?
- Channel: If we could, how could we package it so that many people would consume it?
The answer to the first question was straightforward: practical business education and specialized skills training. We decided to focus on delivering business education.
For the answer to the other two questions, we turned to video games. Why? There are now more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, consequently taking care of the method of delivery. If we embedded business concepts in an entertaining video game, we could distribute it to millions of people globally.
Now, how to do that successfully?
In his 2003 publication, James Gee explained how game environments enable players to acquire understanding actively and at individual paces. What games have to teach us about learning and literacy shows that well-designed games allow players to advance on different paths, and at different rates. All in response to each player’s interests and abilities while fostering just-in-time learning.
A study carried out in 2007 by Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, went further to demonstrate how people’s behavior in virtual gaming environments influences their behavior in real life. Known as The Proteus Effect, this phenomenon has therapeutic applications in behavioral modification, phobia desensitization, and personal empowerment.
Clearly, for our plan to work, we needed to utilize the Proteus Effect. We needed to create games that will entertain and inspire future players to start successful real-life businesses. The best game genre for this, in our opinion, would be Simulation Games.
Consequently, we decided to create a business simulation game series called Business Heroes. It’s a series of business simulation video games designed to stir up entrepreneurship in players. The series will entertain and expose players to practical business management principles. Hopefully, this will ultimately empower them to be actual “business heroes.”
The first Business Heroes simulation game to be released is a food truck business. Now on Steam, Business Heroes: Food Truck Simulation is a single & multiplayer, turn-based, simulation game designed to provide players with the knowledge and confidence required to start a small business. We scheduled the test phase for early access release in August 2021. The launch on mobile platforms will follow after that.
The game’s goal is for players to start and grow a successful food truck business and fulfill their dreams. Players must make business decisions based on weather and economic conditions, customer preference, unexpected occurrences, and stock cost/availability. All the while, players receive valuable business lessons from the detailed small business guide embedded in the game. This is delivered by Master Lee, the in-game business mentor.
To heighten realism for players, we are simulating a few things. Weather patterns, currency, and pricing are simulated based on the capital city in which the player chooses to start.
We have a Kick-starter campaign planned before the early access release and we are working feverishly to make it a success. Although we know that there are no guarantees with these things.
You can sign up for our mailing list here to get the latest development updates. You can also follow our progress on social media using the icons at the bottom of this article.
At Visionaries, our ultimate vision is to empower, entertain, and educate the world through the power of business simulation games. Hopefully, we will simultaneously reduce global income inequality, unemployment, and access to education.