PLAYER: A European Challenge Game to Discover Young Entrepreneurs

PLAYER: A European Challenge Game to Discover Young Entrepreneurs

Pedro Neves (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Ricardo Rodrigues Nunes (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Jorge Lima (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Paulo Martins (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Hugo Paredes (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), João Varajão (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Leonel Morgado (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Ramiro Gonçalves (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Benjamim Fonseca (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal), Robert Sanders (European BIC Network, Belgium), Vera Barracho (European BIC Network, Belgium), Viktorija Bojovic (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), Saša Bošnjak (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), Zita Bošnjak (University of Novi Sad, Serbia), Alberto Soraci (Innova BIC – Business Innovation Centre, Italy), Urban Lapajne (University of Maribor / IRP, Slovenia), Matej Rus (University of Maribor / IRP, Slovenia), Martin Rahe (Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración, Spain), Andre Mostert (University of East London, United Kingdom), João Carvalho (Centro de Inovação Empresarial da Beira Interior, Portugal) and Isabel Duarte (Centro de Inovação Empresarial da Beira Interior, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0149-9.ch010


Serious games are playing an increasing role as educational tools and the last decade witnessed a growing number of proposals in this field. One of the major challenges of the current European societies is to foster an entrepreneurial interest in young people, and the European Commission has been promoting projects that pursue this objective. This chapter presents one such project, PLAYER, in which an educational game was implemented in Facebook with the aim of promoting entrepreneurship by guiding young people in the definition of a business proposal. The game encompasses 4 stages that include the basic description of the business idea, the characterization of its strategies, the filling of a funding quiz, the SWOT analysis, and finally the production of a detailed business plan, for those players to be able to reach the final stage of the game.
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We have come to take for granted the success of companies such as Youtube, Google and Facebook, that grew exponentially from a small team of young entrepreneurs. However, without any knowledge of Marketing or Economics, the average entrepreneur is likely to fail. PLAYER – Play and Learn As Young EntrepreneuR – is a “Serious Game” sponsored by the EU that seeks to motivate and educate young people to become wise entrepreneurs. The game is divided into 4 stages of growing difficulty, gradually introducing entrepreneurial concepts, and aims to help prepare participants to start their own business. In the first two stages, participants create their own profile and compile a portfolio that seeks to explain the idea at a conceptual level, using multimedia documents alone. There is an option to compile an additional portfolio which will not be publicly exhibited, where sensitive critical points of a user’s strategy may be revealed to a jury of professionals, or simply use it to include links to additional web documents. Portraying market conditions, the user is faced with uncertainty of the number and the score of votes he/she will attract. This is the phase where lobbying and networking takes place to introduce general public with the business idea. While the user waits for his portfolio to gather votes from other users in the social app / contest, he may entertain himself by voting on other portfolios or exploring business strategies and gauging their success with the Sink-or-Swim minigame. As one fits together pieces to describe one’s strategy, and connects them with verbs that may indicate one’s mindset, the entire conceptual map will float or drown with an undulating water animation to indicate the likelihood of the company’s success. It is also possible to request assistance from other users or earn virtual currency points –“entrepreneuros” – by completing tasks for them, giving the hardest-working players an edge. This can be done in the optional Classified advertisement section, which works as a competence marketplace. Soon thereafter a funding quiz must be taken to assess the level of investment required to start their company up, the user’s self-confidence and attitude towards risk. Based on it, a recommendation will be made saying which type of investor to contact, or, eventually, advising the user to rethink his answers. This is to represent financial consultations that would happen in this phase in real life situation. An Executive Summary is then compiled based on information provided in the previous stages, and displayed for the user to complete it with more details on his SWOT Analysis and submit it for evaluation by a jury of experts. While waiting for evaluation, a user may try to get the jury’s attention faster by completing weekly challenges, proving he/she is more skillful or more eager to get the attention of evaluators. The user then proceeds to the last stage, which will require downloading a Business Plan Tool, completing a formal business plan, and uploading it for review. Keeping in mind the target users’ age, which is 15 to 30, and their inexperience with sometimes complicated business details required in business plans the game offers them a thorough guidance in the form of Business Plan Tool. The final score is based on a complex formula that weighs every goal achieved, and PLAYER users can see how they rank compared to other people at any time, draw inspiration from other people’s portfolios, or even talk to them via Facebook. The remainder of this chapter starts with a few background concepts and then presents a detailed description of the game, focusing in the aims of the PLAYER project and on the dynamics used to keep users’ interest and guide them through the other game steps into the final phase. Finally, some insights are given concerning further developments and conclusions are drawn as well.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Peer Acceptance: The condition of identity between individual values and group values, in which the individual does not face pressure by a group to acquire cultural norm the individual doesn’t already possess, and can become part of the group.

Acculturation: Process of cultural learning in which a social group appropriates cultural traits from another group without merging into that group – the learner group may retain its status as a group, with varying degrees of subsumption into the culture being learned.

Social Network: The organization of disparate groups and individuals along specific commonalities in specific sociological and cultural traits. Social networking is the act of continually refactoring the terms and elements of a social network. Presently, the term social network is used to describe both the software services which digitally enable the phenomenon of social networking and the phenomenon of social networking itself.

Gameplay: In referring to digital games, the experience of an interactive system by an end-user as it relates, specifically, to the concrete formal arrangement of its expressive elements along a coherent, consistent and intelligible set of rules. Also, the result of the end-user’s interaction with the meaning-producing elements in a game or game-like system, strictly as organized by its game mechanics.

Entrepreneurship: The activity of creating or furthering innovative or non-trivial goods, initiatives, approaches or business discourse towards market or financial opportunities. Entrepreneurship is where business acumen meets novel and innovative appraisals of market conditions and opportunities. This has the ostensive purpose of either generating new economic goods in fresh economic contexts or increasing the economic relevance of existing economic contexts.

Play: Behavior of exercising abilities in and of the abilities themselves, in which the cognitive, affective or perceptual exploration by individuals of the act of exercising the ability suffices as the motivation for exercising the ability. Play is defined by the agent’s initiative in that its outcomes as an activity are never pre-determined. Play furthermore is not limited by constraints of space or time. Play is free and non-obligatory and non-productive at least in itself – play can lead to benefits, but these are never its ostensive purpose. Finally, play is fundamentally abstract from the standpoint of concrete physical rules and goals of the objective world that is external to play.

Socialization: The process through which individuals internalize their cultural surroundings as a kind of proficiency in the use of the symbols, habits and abilities that define those cultural surroundings. Also, the appropriation of societal norm by an individual towards becoming part of society.

Mechanics: Game or gameplay mechanic refers to a set consisting of more than one rule or constraint that, if interdependent and internally consistent, organizes the end-user’s access to a system in such a way that game qualities are produced. Also, the organizing principle of meaning-producing elements in game which results in formal, organized play.

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