The Role of Awareness for Complex Planning Task Performance: A Microgaming Study

The Role of Awareness for Complex Planning Task Performance: A Microgaming Study

Heide Lukosch (Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands), Daan Groen (InThere, The Hague, Netherlands), Shalini Kurapati (Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands), Roland Klemke (Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, Netherlands) and Alexander Verbraeck (Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2016040102
Article PDF Download
Open access articles are freely available for download


This study introduces the concept of microgames to support situated learning in order to foster situational awareness (SA) of planners in seaport container terminals. In today's complex working environments, it is often difficult to develop the required level of understanding of a given situation, described as situational awareness. A container terminal represents an important, complex node in the multimodal transportation of goods. Many operations have to be planned in order to ensure a high performance of the whole system. To evaluate the relation between SA and planning task performance, the authors conducted tests with 142 participants. They evaluated the role of SA in integrated planning activities, and the playability and usefulness of the microgame. In conclusion, the authors can state that SA is very conducive to integrated planning tasks in container terminal operations. The microgame approach allows for an enjoyable game activity, while providing a meaningful situated learning experience towards SA.
Article Preview


A lot of working environments today show characteristics of complex socio-technical systems, consisting out of complex physical-technical systems and networks of interdependent actors (De Bruijn & Herder, 2009). These systems are characterized as increasingly interconnected, and their infrastructures composed of different technological layers inter-operate within the social component that drives their use and development (Vespignani, 2012). For example, a container terminal can be defined as a complex socio-technical system, being an important node in the worldwide transportation network, connecting different modalities of transportation and storing goods (Saanen, 2004). Related to these characteristics, the planning of operations in a container terminal is complex, dynamic and interdependent. Operations that have to be planned are e.g. the location and time of an arriving vessel, the loading and unloading of the vessel, and the further storing or transportation of the goods from the vessel. Current planning practice involves a decomposition of single planning tasks, conducting them in a sequential manner. This approach leads to sub-optimal results, while the container industry is highly competitive, and time, money and quantity of goods handled play an important role (Zeng & Yang, 2009). Such dynamic, complex, and technology dependent work environment requires employees with adaptive skills (Penney, David, & Witt, 2011), characterized by the ability to handle dynamic situations, to deal with stressful events, to manage crisis situations, and to navigate unfamiliar or unpredictable work situations (Pulakos, Arad, & Donovan, 2000). Furthermore, it requires a holistic understanding of what is going on within the container terminal, called situational awareness (SA) (Endsley, 1995). SA and multi-stakeholder decision situations (confronted with time restrictions and incomplete information such as emergencies) have been recognised as a relevant field for specific training approaches involving tabletop exercises (Dowell & Hoc, 1995), non-computerized tactical decision training games (Crichton et al., 2000), or multi-user mobile games for shared decision training (Klemke et al., 2014). In our study, we introduce a novel approach to learning in complex socio-technical systems called microgaming. We show how one microgame is used to support the development of SA of the actors involved in a complex system, and how this could influence planning task performance. In the following section, we briefly illustrate why SA is important for actors in complex, socio-technical systems, before we introduce our concept of microgames. In the fourth section, we represent our study with a microgame, before we end up with a discussion and conclusions.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Volume 13: 1 Issue (2023): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2022): 1 Released, 3 Forthcoming
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2021)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (2020)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (2019)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2011)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing