This is a blog about the ongoing development of Ozzipalooza, a management simulation game.
It is intended to be a record of our reflections about the development process. In addition, we provide a technical guide to other educators to help them develop their own simulation games.
What is Ozzipalooza?
Ozzipalooza is a management simulation game in which the player controls Alex, an events manager. In the game’s narrative, she is a relatively junior employee who is thrust into a position of considerable responsibility. Namely, she is responsible for organising a high profile music festival: the titular Ozzipalooza.
In the simulation, the player is responsible for delivering the festival. They must work in a cross-disciplinary team and deal with the sometimes difficult personalities of fellow team members. They are required to manage differences of opinion and lead the team to make intelligent decisions.
Choosing a scenario required thinking of a context where someone in their early twenties could plausibly be in some kind of management position. We needed a workplace environment where a protagonist (similar to the student) could be thrust into a management role. This would allow us to introduce management concepts (as the protagonist experiences those concepts). We chose a live music festival (the fictitious “Ozzipalooza”) as we felt it would resonate with the students’ experiences and interests. Any festival-goer would appreciate just how much effort goes into organising such a big event. We also thought this scenario would work well because it has a clear beginning and end point. However, the choices the player makes along the way will have a large impact on the final ending.
Why a simulation game?
The motivation for the development of the game came from our experiences of teaching Introduction to Management, a core unit within the Bachelor of Business.
We observed that most of our students had few practical experiences of management. Although there are a small number of mature age students, as well as some who work as casual or part-time employees, most of our students have come straight out of high school. As a result, the students often find the management concepts and theories in the syllabus to be disconnected from their experiences. We were looking for some way to build access to practical or authentic management experiences for our students. With several hundred students enrolled in the unit the logistics of providing undergraduate students with the experience of managing something is extremely difficult. We felt that a simulation game might be an option for bridging the gap between the experience level of our students and that needed for students to understand management concepts more easily.
The simulation game provides numerous opportunities for the unit teaching team. The game provides practical examples of managerial concepts in action. These examples can be later discussed in lectures and tutorials. Moreover, particular decision points in the game—such as deciding what type of leadership style to apply—can be used to stimulate class discussion and debate. As the game can be played multiple times, it can provide a refresher to the students about the management topics covered.
The game also potentially has the capacity to be adapted, extended or modified depending on the concepts to be covered. We focused on key concepts that are taught in our unit and that are generally commonly found in most introductory management texts. However, we were trying to keep away from covering concepts that are covered in other units in our course in any depth (for example human resource management topics). If there were other concepts that were important to cover they could easily be added into the story.
What platform did you use to develop Ozzipalooza?
We investigated several tools for developing the simulation game, but we eventually settled on Twine (version 2.x). Twine is a tool for developing interactive web-based stories. We used it with the SugarCube (version 2.x) story format.
Finally, Twine is free and open-source. It can be used by educators at zero cost, except for the time invested in developing an interactive story or simulation game.
Who are the developers?
The developers are Tim Bednall and Elizabeth Merlot, two academics from the Department of Management & Marketing at Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, Australia. We are both convenors of Introduction to Management, a core unit within the Bachelor of Business degree.
Another contributor to the project is Alycia O’Sullivan, an organisational psychology work placement student. Alycia provided invaluable support and guidance in the creation of the project. Daniel Laurance, a learning technologist from Swinburne, also provided support for the project.