The Value of Team-Based Mixed-Reality (TBMR) Games in Higher Education

The Value of Team-Based Mixed-Reality (TBMR) Games in Higher Education

John A. Denholm (Serious Games Institute, Coventry, West Midlands, UK), Aristidis Protopsaltis (Serious Games Institute, Coventry, West Midlands, UK) and Sara de Freitas (Serious Games Institute, Coventry, West Midlands, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/ijgbl.2013010102
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This paper reports on a conducted study, measuring the perceptions of post-graduate students on the effectiveness of serious games in the classroom. Four games were used (Project Management Exercise, “Winning Margin” Business Simulation, Management of Change and Management of Product Design and Development) with scenarios ranging from product design to project management. The games might be classified as Team-Based Mixed-Reality (TBMR) games. The games were conducted over the period October 2010 to May 2011and the questionnaires conducted during June 2011. The results, from a sample size of 80 of largely international students, indicated a clear ranking of emotions experienced when participating in the games with “Exciting” outweighing “Apprehensive”, “Bored” and Indifferent”. The majority of students indicated that both “their team winning” and “showing their personal competence” were important to them. However 70% said that working in teams was valuable in itself implying that team-working was a strong element in the conclusion that the games were of value. For all four games, over 60% said that conflict was valuable and over 75% said participating improved their “working in teams” skills. The value of feedback was rated highly, as was improved motivation. Over 60% said that the participation in the games was more useful than lectures on the same topic.
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While educational games and simulations have been around since the 1960’s there has been a recent increase in their use largely due to improving technology tools and the desire to promote new and more efficient methods of teaching. Learners are becoming active participants in their learning experiences and are shaping their own educational environments (de Freitas, 2010). In parallel with these developments has been the use of technology for electronic-based learning, known variously as flexi-learning, blended learning or distance learning. These emerging facilities depend largely on the effectiveness of both enhanced software and distributed network technology, allowing students remote participation in lectures and interactive discussion.

However these developments, while sharing similar advances in technology, are not synonymous with educational games as such. Games go back a long way before the advent of computers, as far as Roman times and further. Clearly these were not always consciously designed to be educational, although arguably they might be classified as such, as they generally have a component of tacit learning. There has been a recent growth of interest in Serious Games which are still entertaining but are primarily designed with education and training in mind (Allen et al., 2009, p28). The educational element can be seen in many currently popular games in the way players develop useful skills e.g. logic as in Chess, the handling of currency as in Monopoly or the competitive bargaining and bidding skills that are introduced in the more complex financial or economic simulations, for example share-dealing scenarios.

Hogue et al. (2010) make the point that serious games and simulations provide a way to facilitate intercultural communications training for business professionals. Groups and teams are the backbone of business collaboration and communication (p. 16). Thus, the team element is seen as being important in the assessment of business-related games in particular.

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