More than just a game!

Learning is generally associated with effort, seriousness and work. Hence, simulation games are often dismissed as gimmicks. All the same they are of a serious nature, which is exemplified by their emergence in the Prussian military. The war games used then served tactical and strategic planning purposes and were also used for the training and selection of military leaders a long time ago. Today simulation games are employed in training and staff development, in organisational development and in strategy consulting. They have also proven their value in verifying competences in staff selection processes and in occupational training and development programmes.

Exemplary simulation of reality

Simulation games are realistic models in which people assume roles and make decisions, thereby observing specific rules, and which then simulate the consequences of these decisions. Traditional role-play simulates conversational situations and communicational behaviour, but not the environment. In contrast, simulation games model social phenomena and a complex environment. Important features and characteristics of the modelled processes and their interactions are simulated considering available resources (e.g. time, money), whereby this is reduced to a reasonable didactical level. The dynamic character of simulations allows the modelling and examination of processes that in real life cannot be operated for time, cost or safety reasons.

Playful learning

In contrast to a simulation, pure play (e.g. soccer) does not simulate reality. However, the Latin term for “game” (“ludus”) can be translated as fun and amusement but also as school. This shows that knowledge can be acquired by playing. The simulation game explicitly serves the purpose of social knowledge generation and includes an abstract set of rules to structure processes, aside from a reference to real systems. It is precisely the modelling of real rules of systems in a simulation game that allows those rules to be experienced and internalised. This form of cooperative learning stimulates problem solving in a team. It also provides practical learning areas with a realistic level of complexity and manoeuvring room.

Learning from mistakes

Especially in the field of problem solving within a group it is important that mistakes may be made so that team members can learn from them. For that reason they must not be prevented by design features. It should only be ensured that the consequences of such mistakes, which per se are desirable, remain harmless. This includes trial action as a central element for the success of the learning process. The immediate feedback of an action’s consequences is another advantage of simulation games.

Problem-oriented learning

Simulation game methods put the core principles of problem-oriented learning into practice. They possess all the features of action-oriented teaching – a realistic approach, holism, reflection, learner activation and orientation. These experience-based methods allow the planning of meaningful action strategies, their execution and optimisation. The focus is on goal setting, strategy development and execution, early detection, analysis and evaluation of critical situations and unmasking the consequences of decisions. In the reflection phases the simulated system interactions, the mental models of the participants and their experiences with the simulation game can be discussed and evaluated.


Learn more about our range of products and services. Here you can find detailed information on our simulation games and our seminars.

Simulation game in action: BR alpha on riva’s simulation game IRIS Insurance Game

“Mit der Methode Planspiel wird eine ganzheitliche Sichtweise trainiert. Die Teilnehmer lernen spielerisch die Zusammenhänge aller Bereiche kennen und können ausprobieren, wie sich Entscheidungen auswirken. Vier Tage lang Vorstand üben, davon profitiert jeder Mitarbeiter.”
© BR (Erstsendung: 17.07.2002 um 21.45 Uhr, BR alpha)

Some of our clients