Simulation and gaming

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Simulation and Gaming refers to a series of instructional designs that use elements from simulation and gaming. Simulation and Gaming can be done with board games, computer assisted board games, or fully computerized environments.

Simulation and gaming is particular popular in business education. According to Hall (2011), “"Total enterprise" simulations or management or business games. They date back to 1957 when a group at the Rand Corporation (Bellman et al, 1957) created what is perhaps the first computerised business game (simulation).”

The Simulation & Gaming journal defines Simulation/gaming in its broadest meaning, “to encompass such areas as simulation, computerized simulation, internet simulation, gaming, simulation/gaming, serious games, educational games, training games, e-games, internet games, video games, policy exercises, day-in-the-life simulations, planning exercises, debriefing, analytic discussion, post-experience analysis, modeling, virtual reality, game theory, role-play, role-playing, play, active learning, experiential learning, learning from experience, toys, augmented reality, playthings, structured exercises, education games, alternative purpose games, edutainment, digital game-based learning, immersive learning, brain games, social impact games, games for change, games for good, synthetic learning environments, synthetic task environments.” (retrieved April 12, 2010).

DSchneider believes that Role Play Simulations belong to the same category

According to Dumlekar (2004) in the context of "Management simulations": “A simulation is a replica of reality. As a training program, it enables adult participants to learn through interactive experiences. Simulations contain elements of experiential learning and adult learning [...] Simulations would therefore be useful to learn about complex situations (where data is incomplete, unreliable or unavailable), where the problems are unfamiliar, and where the cost of errors in making decisions is likely to be high. Therefore, simulations offer many benefits. They accelerate and compress time to offer a foresight of a hazy future. They are experimental, experiential, and rigorous. They promote creativity amongst the participants, who develop a shared view of their learning and behaviors. Above all, making decisions have no real-life cost implications.”.

See also: Computer game, video game, microworld, tangible computing, simulation.

Educational benefits

Faria (2001:104), citing Hoover and Whitehead (1975:25), links business simulation and games to experiential learning. It “exists when a personally responsible participant cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally processes knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes in a learning situation characterized by a high level of active involvement””.

According to Dukes (in the context of sociology teaching):

  1. They increase student motivation.
  2. They facilitate the affective aspect of learning.
  3. They enhance interpersonal relations and promote interpersonal reward structures for learning.
  4. They do at least as well as conventional techniques in achieving cognitive outcomes.
  5. They tend to produce improved communication and discussion within the classroom.
  6. They tend to produce a more integrated view of the broader context within which sociological concepts fall.
  7. They promote individual discovery in learning from the learner's own perspective.
In summary: They plug many gaps which conventional methods of instruction are unlikely to fill; they round out the learning experience.

Faria (2001), in the context of business games, identified:

  1. Cognitive learning, “developing an understanding of basic facts and concepts so that sound decisions can be made (Wellington, Faria, Whiteley, & Nulsen, 1995).” (p. 104).
  2. Affective learning, what they perceive that they learn (!)
  3. Behavioral learning, “taking the facts or concepts that have been learned and formulating correct decisions or actions or exhibiting changes in behavior in light of the new information learned” (p. 104)


Pittaway and Cope (2007) argue that “it is possible to simulate aspects of entrepreneurial learning, such as emotional exposure and situated learning, but not others”.

Types of simulation and gaming

Management simulations

  • “A simulation is a replica of actual events, presented in a manner with a specific purpose. A management simulation (MS) is a collection of business cases that narrate market, business and economic events. When used for training, participants seek to understand management concepts, and augment or experiment with the methodologies, tools, techniques and practices learnt at business schools or at other training platforms. The final goal is stated as a financial measure, with a supporting explanation. A software program translates management action (their decisions) into business results (financial and other reports).” Dumlekar (2004)

Business simulations

  • Often referred to as business simulation games or business games, business simulations are mostly associated with computer-based learning, managerial microworlds, and serious games. They are also sometimes being referred to as dynamic case studies. Business simulations are used in business schools to highlight theories and concepts taught during undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Business simulations are also used to improve training of business managers on subjects such as finance, strategy or operations. They generally require participants to input decisions into the simulation in an iterative way. Business simulations are available as systems which are a representation of one or more functional areas of a business organization such as: purchasing, production, distribution, finance, marketing, human resources, research & development. Business simulations are classified by the following criterions:
Mode of conduct The setting in which the participants carry out the simulation Online: virtual environments, games, websites In-person: board games, role-play activities Blended: both virtual and in-person elements
Subject matter The content of the simulation Functional: one or more functions of the business are simulated (e.g. the production function) Total: all or most of the business functions are simulated (e.g. a hotel) Topical: a certain topic or phenomena is simulated (e.g. a corporate takeover)
Participation options The options made available to participants as to how they can participate Team-based: individuals participate in teams, often representing one firm in a competitive marketplace Individual: participants can carry out the simulation by themselves, with no need for other individuals.
Interactivity The degree to which participants interact with the simulation or the other participants High Interaction: results are calculated by the simulation with no further input required by the participants or the simulation instructors. Participants can influence the simulation results of other participants. Communication tools such as chat rooms or forums are present

Low Interaction: simulation results are calculated by the simulation instructor, there is little to no interaction between the simulation participants.

Decisional Interface The manner through which participants are interacting with the simulation Numerical: through a computer interface (e.g. budget allocation or selecting a price)

Qualitative: through scorecards or answer sheets (e.g. describing a strategy)

Other: specific to the simulation (e.g. moving tokens on a board game)

Complexity The number of decisions and the potential outcomes of the simulation High Complexity: participants are faced with a large number of decisions, with new decisions which can be introduced during the simulation. The simulation has a large number of possible outcomes.

Low Complexity: the simulation offers a reduced number of decisions, the number of outcomes is limited.

There are a number of products, a well known example is Markstrat from StratX.

Marketing simulations

Marketing simulations are similar to business simulation games with the focus being on replicating the behaviour of a particular consumer group or audience in reaction to the participants decisions. Marketing simulations are used to educate students on topics such as: product positioning, advertising budget allocation, pricing, market research. A study carried out by Faria and Wellington in 2004 revealed that 64.1% of 1,085 faculty members surveyed in American Universities were using games with a focus on marketing

Digital marketing simulations

Here we describe simulations which cover the practice of Digital Marketing (not to be confused with marketing simulations which unfold in a digital environment) The internet can be described as an environment in which competition is intense, growth is rapid, innovation is abundant and the technological options are increasingly complex (Pagani and Otto, 2013). Digital marketing operations involve using both quantitative data and qualitative data. The rise in the quantity of data made available to marketing managers cannot easily indicate what is the best course of action (Wierenga, 2011). Typical activities associated with using a digital marketing simulation can include: identifying online consumer groups, producing digital content such as text or images, creating websites, using the simulation to create advertising campaigns (e.g. a contextual advertising campaign for a simulated search engine), analysis of simulation results.

Examples and instructional design models


  • Simbound commercial, simulation game and course tools for internet (digital) marketing courses (first released in 2012).
  • Leading edge paper products, A complex management simulation. Cambridge Management Centres (1990; updated 2002). PDF
  • SimProjet. Hybrid simulator for teaching project management (in french)
  • KHS commercial, in German (select Heraklit-Planspiele).

Instructional design models

Although there are numerous instructional design models for creating simulations there doesn't appear to be consensus on a well established approach, not even inside the same field of education or training.

In a meta-analysis study covering instructional models used in simulation-based education in the medical field (2013, Cook, Hamstra et al.) several best practices for simulation-based education have been identified: range of difficulty, repetitive practice, distributed practice, cognitive interactivity, multiple learning strategies, individualized learning, mastery learning, feedback, longer time, and clinical variation.

It is widely accepted that simulations should be developed once a well defined learning or training need has been identified. This instructional consideration is usually present alongside the design component. Below is the popular ADDIE model:

  • Analysis : defining the desired outcomes of the simulation
  • Design: determining how the desired outcomes are to be accomplished
  • Development: establishing requisite system(s) and acquiring needed resources to attain desired outcomes.
  • Implementation: implementing design and development plans within the real-world environment.
  • Evaluation: measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the implemented system and using collected data for

improvement in closing gaps between actual and desired outcomes.

It has been argued that designing a simulation of an object can be more complex than designing the object of the simulation. The instructional designer has to understand the characteristics of the object or the environment which is to be simulated and further will have to consider the design of the learning implications for those using the simulation (Becker, Parker 2012).

Real-world learning experiences and simulations

The perception of reality of a project can be achieved through both a real project or a simulated technique. Student perceptions of learning in live case conditions do not significantly differ from perceptions of learn­ing in the simulated condition (Maher & Hughner, 2005)

Matching learning types and games

  • Prensky (2001) presents a table suggesting the types of learning that can be promoted by various games styles. PDF


  • Serious Games Initiative - Community/News Portal. The Serious Games Initiative is focused on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. (some of their articles concern S&G)
  • Games for Change - Games for Change (G4C) provides support, visibility and shared resources to organizations and individuals using digital games for social change.
  • (includes some information in German, e.g. a glossary about systemic thinking).
  • Role Playing in education - By A. Blattner, MD. Review of Role Playing, importance, applications, history, problems, future implications.


  • Aggarwal, Raj; Feng Zhan. (2018) Course Design Considerations in International Business Education. Journal of Teaching in International Business 29:4, pages 267-271.
  • Angehrn Albert A. (2006) Advanced Social Simulations: Innovating the way we learn how to manage change in organizations; International Journal of Information Technology Education, forthcoming. (PDF)
  • Angehrn Albert A. , J.E.M. Atherton (1999); A Conceptual Framework for Assessing Development Programmes for Change Agents; Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS'99), Copenhagen, Denmark. PDF
  • Angehrn Albert A. , Yves Doz, Jill Atherton (1995); Business Navigator: The Next Generation of Management Development Tools; Focus, No. 1, pp. 24-31. [1]
  • Becker, Kathrin; Parker, James R. Serious Instructional Design: ID for Digital Simulations and Games. Conference Paper: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012, at Austin, Texas, USA. Available from [2]exists when a personally responsible participant cognitively,affectively, and behaviorally processes knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes in a learningsituation characterized by a high level of active involvement”
  • Bellman, Richard, Charles Clark, Cliff Craft, Don O. Malcolm and Franc Ricciardi (1957). On the construction of a multi-stage multi-person Business Game, The RAND Corporation.
  • Biggs, William D. (1990), Introduction to computerized business management simulations, in Guide to Business Gaming and Experiential Learning, ed. James W. Gentry, Nichols/GP Publishing, East Brunswick
  • Cook, David A.; Hamstra, Stanley J.; Brydges, Ryan; Zendejas, Benjamin; Szostek,Jason H.; Wang,Amy T.;Erwin, Patricia J.; and Hatala,Rose; Medical Teacher Vol. 35 , Iss. 1,2013
  • Crookall, D., Klabbers J.H.G., Coote A., Saunders D., Cecchini A. and Delle Piane A. (editors), Simulation-Gaming in Education and Training, Oxford: Pergamon, 1988. ISBN 0080364659
  • Dumblekar, Vinod. (2004). Management simulations: Tests of effectiveness. Online posting on Simulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Practice and Research web site. HTML
  • Faria, A.J.; Wellington, W.J. (2004). "Survey of simulation game users, former - users, and never - users". Simulation and Gaming. 35 (2): 178–207.
  • Faria, A. J. (2001). The changing nature of business simulation/gaming research: A brief history. SIMULATION & GAMING, 32(1), 97-110. PDF.
  • Fripp, John (1993) Learning through Simulations, McGraw-Hill Book Company, London
  • Gold, Steven (2003) The Design of a Business Simulation using a System-Dynamics-Based Approach Developments in Business Simulations and Experiential Exercises Volume 30 [Available from]
  • Goosen, Kenneth R.; Ron Jensen and Robert Wells (2001). Purpose and learning benefits of simulations: a design and development perspective, Simulation and Gaming, 32(1) 21 - 39. 10.1177/104687810103200104
  • Gosen, Jerry and Washbush, John, (2004). A Review of Scholarship on Assessing Experiential Learning Effectiveness, Simulation & Gaming, Vol. 35, No. 2, 270-293 DOI: 10.1177/1046878104263544. Abstract PDF (Access restricted)
  • Gosen, Jerry (2004) The Influence of Variables easily controlled by the Instructor/Administrator on Simulation Outcomes: in particular, the variable, reflection, Developments in Business Simulation & Experiential Exercises, Volume 31, 2004
  • Hall, Jeremy and Benita Cox (1993) Computerised Management Games: the feedback process and servo-mechanism analogy, Simulation & Gaming Yearbook 1993 eds Fred Percival and Danny Saunders, Kogan Page London
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. and Benita M Cox (1994) Complexity is it really that simple, Systems Developments in Business Simulations and Experiential Exercises Volume 21 Precha Thavikulwat & John D. Overby (eds.), College of Business Administration, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (1994a) Computerised Tutor Support Systems: the tutor's role, needs and tasks, The Simulation & Gaming Yearbook Volume 2 eds. Roger Armstrong, Fred Percival and Danny Saunders Kogan Page London.
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (1995b) Computerised Business Simulations: The Need for Unfriendly Interfaces Journal of Intelligent Systems Volume 5: Nos 2-4, Freund Publishing, London
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (2005) Computer business simulation design: the rock pool method, Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, Volume 32, 2005, [Available from]
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (2007) Computer Business Simulation Design: Novelty and Complexity Issues Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, Volume 34, 2007 Reprinted in the Bernie Keys Library, 8th Edition [Available from]
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (2008) Corporate Cartooning: The Art of Computerized Business Simulation Design Developments in Business Simulation & Experiential Exercises, © 2011 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall References [V0.0 25/01/11] Page 5, Volume 35, 2009, [Available from]
  • Hall, Jeremy J. S. B. (2009) Existing and Emerging Business Simulation-Game Design Movements, Developments in Business Simulation & Experiential Exercises, Volume 36, 2009 Reprinted in the Bernie Keys Library, 9th Edition [Available from]
  • Ip, Albert & Roni Linser (2001). Simulated Worlds: Rapid Generation of Web-Based Role-Play, AusWeb01, the Seventh Australian World Wide Web Conference, Opal Cover Resort, Coffs Harbour, 21-25 April 2001, HTML
  • Jerry Seay, Robert Scott, Small Library, Education and Simulation/Gaming and Computers HTML
  • Jones, K. What happens when students design and run their own simulations? Simulation & Gaming (1998) Volume 29
  • Johnson Michael C. , Charles R. Graham, Su-Ling Hsueh. The Impact of Instructional Simulation Use on Teaching and Learning. Informed Design of Educational Technologies in Higher Education, pages 193-211.
  • Klabbers, Jan H. G (2006). The Magic Circle: Principles Of Gaming & Simulation, Modeling and Simulation for Learning and Instruction volume 1, Sense Publishers, ISBN 978-90-879000-6-9
  • Klabbers, Jan H. G. (2003). Gaming and Simulation: Principles of a Science of Design, Simulation and Gaming, 34 (4) 569 - 591.
  • Klein E. E. and P. J. Herskovitz, Philosophical foundations of computer simulation validation, Simulation Gaming, September 1, 2005; 36(3): 303 - 329. Abstract PDF (Access restricted)
  • Keys, B., & Wolfe, J. (1990). The role of management games and simulations in education and research. Journal of Management, 16, 307-336.
  • Linser, R., Naidu, S. & Ip, A. (1999, December). Pedagogical Foundations of Web-based Simulations in Political Science. Paper presented at ASCILITE 99, the 16th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, 14-16 December 1999, AUSTRALIA.
  • Linser, Roni & Albert Ip (2004). Creating Learning Opportunities Using an RPS Authoring Tool, AusWeb '04, The Tenth Australian World Wide Web Conference, Seaworld Nara Resort, Gold Coast,, from 3rd to 7th July 2004, HTML
  • Maier, F. H., & Gröössler, A. (2000). What are we talking about? A taxonomy of computer simulations to support learning. System Dynamics Review, 16, 135-148.
  • Manzoni, Jean-Francois & Albert A. Angehrn (1997). Understanding Organizational Dynamics of IT-Enabled Change : A Multimedia Simulation Approach, Journal of Management Information Systems / Winter 1997-98, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 109-140. PDF
  • Miller, Craig, Nancy Nentl and Ruth Zietlow (2010) About Simulations and Bloom’s Learning Taxonomy Developments in Business Simulations and Experiential Exercises Volume 37. [Available from]
  • Miller, R and T Leroux-Demers (1992) Business Simulations: Validity and Effectiveness, Simulations/Games for Learning 22 4
  • Pagani, Margherita and Otto, Peter (2013) Integrating strategic thinking and simulation in marketing strategy: Seeing the whole system, Journal of Business Research Volume 66, Issue 9, Pages 1568–1575
  • Prensky, M. (2001). Types of Learning and Possible Game Styles. Digital Game-Based Learning. McGraw-Hill. PDF
  • Prensky, Marc (2005) Complexity Matters: Mini-games are Trivial – but “Complex” Games are not, Educational Technology, Vol 45, No 4 July-Aug 2005
  • Quinn, Clark N. and Marcia L. Conner (2005) Engaging Learning: Designing e-learning Simulation Games, John Wiley & Sons, San Francisco
  • Randel, Josephine M.; Barbara A. Morris; C. Douglas Wetzel and Betty V. Whitehill (1992). The effectiveness of games for educational purposes: a review of recent research. Simulation and Gaming 23 (3). 261 - 276. 10.1177/1046878192233001
  • Romme, Georges, A. (2003). Learning Outcomes of Microworlds for Management Education, Management Learning, Vol. 34, No. 1, 51-61. DOI:10.1177/1350507603034001130
  • Romme, A. Georges L. and Roger Putzel (2003). Designing Management Education: Practice What You Teach, Simulation and Gaming, v.34 n.4, p.512-530.
  • Romme, Georges, A. (2004). Perceptions of the value of microworld simulation: research note, Simulation and Gaming, 35 (3) 427-436.
  • Scherpereel, Christopher M. (2005). hanging mental models: Business simulation exercises, Simulation and Gaming, 36 (3), 388 - 403. 10.1177/1046878104270005.
  • Schönwald, Ingrid , Dieter Euler, Albert Angehrn, Sabine Seufert (2006). EduChallenge Learning Scenarios, Designing and Evaluating Learning Scenarios with a Team-Based Simulation on Change Management in Higher Education, SCIL Report 8, January 2006. [3]
  • de Jong, Tom (ed.) (2003), Knowledge Management Interactive Training Systems (KITS), final report, PDF
  • Jacques, D. (1995). Games, simulations and case studies: A review. In: D. Sauders (Ed.), The simulation and gaming yearbook. Volume 3. Games and simulations for business. London: Kogan.
  • Wierenga, Berend (2011) "Managerial decision making in marketing: The next research frontier", International Journal of Research in Marketing Volume 28, Issue 2, June 2011, Pages 89–101


A large part of the bibliography was found in Jeremy Hall's bibliography (2011), part of his free online book "Corporate Cartooning, The Art, Science and Craft of Computer Business Simulation Design. (2010-2012).