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People do not just learn through books - in fact most people in the world never read, and yet they learn how to be good members of their societies. They learn by imitation and by engagement. This natural condition of learning is what simulation games try to reproduce.

I wrote quite a bit about simulation games, including the book Exploring Culture, and the edited book Why do Games work.

Exploring culture

This accessible book is useful if you like cross-cultural exercises and stories, either as a general reader or as an instructor at a school or university. Translations exist into Bulgarian, Dutch, Estonian, and Slovene. It contains a.o. the games SYNTHETIC CULTURE LAB and A TRADE MISSION, both of which can be used in the classroom. And it encourages you to create your own exercises.

The book is an elaboration of a 1999 article in Simulation & Gaming that described ten Synthetic Cultures, scripting devices for simulation games that operationalize Hofstede's first five dimensions. I later created synthetic cultures for the sixth dimension, Indulgence vs Restraint. 

Why do games work.jpg

This book brings together chapters from simulation gaming practitioners who write brief, to the point chapters about what they think is the secret, the 'active substance', of their craft.

Some articles about simulation games that you might like and that are electronically available:

  • Gert Jan Hofstede & Elizabeth J. Tipton Murff (2011) Repurposing an Old Game for an International World. Simulation & Gaming  43:1 34-50. This gives you a nice political board game ready to play, well adapted to classroom use: SO LONG SUCKER - but the editor did not want this name in the paper's title; times have changed since 1964. All you need are some poker chips. Here is the abstract:

<< The game SO LONG SUCKER was designed in the United States in 1964 with the aim of showing how potentially unethical behavior necessary for winning was inherent in the game’s incentive structure. Sessions with East Asian participants, however, led to very different game dynamics in which collaborative rather than antagonistic behaviors occurred. This confirms that the course of a simulation game run is determined by more than its rules and roles. The participants’ personalities, skills, personal histories, and preexisting relationships also play a role. Furthermore, the unwritten rules of social behavior that the participants have been socialized into, their culture, is of crucial importance. This article uses experiences with a mix of U.S. and Taiwanese participants to discuss the interaction of written and unwritten rules in determining game dynamics. The suitability for international classroom use of this game, and others, as a vehicle for drawing lessons about culture is argued.>>   

This is about the TRUST AND TRACING GAME, a game for about 25 people who build a distribution network of a product with hidden quality attribute about which people could lie, and could be found out. The paper received the journal's annual Best Paper Award. Sebastiaan Meijer went on to write and defend his Doctoral Thesis "The organization of transactions" about a.o. this game. The game is now played at universities and in schools. It requires some materials that you'd have to prepare yourself.

  • Bots, Pieter W.G. & Gert Jan Hofstede (2004) The TAKEOVER TRIO. Simulation & Gaming 35:4 505-516. A negotiation game that we first called A DAUGHTER IN DANGER - but that name was deemed potentially offensive by the editors. Abstract:

The TAKEOVER TRIO is a business game about a takeover. Three stakeholders (mother company, ailing daughter company, and potential buying company) must agree on a plan to prevent compulsory liquidation of the daughter. The primary learning objective is to make participantsaware of the effect of negotiation process parameters on its outcome. Depending on the facilitator’s aims, he or she could highlight either or all of the following process parameters: logical thinking, creativity, dominance, or process management. The game scenario is not based on a real-life case (all data are fictional) but has been devised to balance three stakeholders to prevent an obvious outcome. It takes at least 12 people to play and 3 hours, plus about an hour of preparations for each participant.                 

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