From Summit to Duckboat - a research trip to the USA
After more than two and a half years, we - Friedrich Trautwein, Tobias Alf and Birgit Zuern - from the ZMS team were able to embark on a research trip together that took us across the pond. We met Anna Tavis, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor and Academic Director of Human Capital Management at New York University. We exchanged views on the use of simulations and on the challenges of studying in the US versus Germany. We were able to find common ground, especially regarding the consequences of the pandemic, but also gave each other tips and information on simulation games used. We hope to expand this cooperation with mutual lectures (e.g. on Everest, a Harvard business simulation) or research projects. An international comparative study on learning success in simulation games is also conceivable. New York as a city fascinated all three of us and we also took the time to go to the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial and - as a highlight - to the Vanderbilt Tower. There is a new attraction there, the Summit - a mirror-glass world at a dizzying height with incredibly beautiful lighting effects and views.
But soon we took the train to Boston, by the way a) delayed and b) without working wifi (where does that sound familiar?). Boston was our second stop for the next five days. There, the 53rd ISAGA Conference took place at Northeastern University. The theme was "Simulation and Gaming for Social Impact" and each day had a different programmatic focus: education and training, resilience and sustainability, health, and social justice. As a hybrid planned conference, the number of participants in attendance unfortunately remained around 65 people. In addition, there were online participants in some sessions.
Hybrid meeting formats will probably prevail in the future. However, in our opinion, this is not a satisfactory solution, especially for workshops. Hybrid formats complicate the moderation/facilitation of workshops enormously and make a good exchange between participants difficult, especially between participants on site and those who are connected. Unfortunately, there were also recurring technical problems during presentations, up to cases where even the speakers simply did not show up in the online space.
Each day started with a keynote, of which Prof. Dr. Igor Mayer is particularly noteworthy, who gave an exciting insight into the topic of the digital twin (of course, his own digital twin was also present). The program consisted of lectures, workshops and poster and gaming sessions, which were offered in up to four parallel tracks, so that you often had to decide where to go and what you unfortunately could not take with you. As a result, the TN numbers in the individual sessions were also very low in some cases. An evening activity such as the opening day reception, a gaming night at a game bar, and the gala dinner at a local brewery with the typical New England food of lobster, mussels, and vegetables rounded out the conference. A small highlight was a Duckboat trip: From an amphibious vehicle we could get excited about Boston on land and water.
The ZMS was also very active at the conference itself. We contributed to the program with two papers including a presentation as well as two workshops. Prof. Dr. Friedrich Trautwein and Tobias Alf presented the tool developed at the ZMS for the evaluation of planning game-based courses (ZMS-Inventory). In a second paper, data on the difference between business and sustainability simulation games were presented using the ZMS-Inventory. We are very pleased to have received the Best Paper Award for the development of the ZMS-Inventory. We hope that the research tool will attract interest and be widely used.
The first workshop by Tobias Alf and Birgit Zuern focused on sustainability with the "Fishing Game". Although experienced simulation game participants sat in the fishing boats, the scarcity of fish as a resource led to exciting discussions among the participating fishing companies. The game mechanisms used in this game were unanimously emphasized. The second workshop took place together with Dr. Maria Freese from TU Delft / raccoon games. We had finished our "Cards for Facilitation Game" shortly before the trip and were able to play and discuss it with a group on site. It is about the evaluation of risks that can arise during the execution of the plan game. These are first weighted individually and then "sold" to the others in a pitch. Then, using the same approach, one seeks measures to resolve this risk identified as the "main risk." An informative and entertaining game setting that was very well received by the participants.
Birgit Zuern also took part in another exciting workshop on Sealife, where you create a coherent environment by the sea for your team, but then you have to build in the consequences for the economy and the environment. Dr. Nicolas Becu led this workshop. He will be hosting the next ISAGA Conference in La Rochelle in 2023. Cordial invitation to all interested to come there - it will be worthwhile!
What remains as a conclusion?