Improving the learning experience of decision support systems in entrepreneurship with 3D management simulation games




Gould, Olga

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Business simulation games are used in educational institutions and various industries in the private and public sector to train students and employees to practice the principles of management and decision-making skills by providing a fail-safe environment and enabling them to reflect on their simulation results. These games are generally advanced multiuser environments where a user, or a group of users, have access to a virtual company for making business decisions. Some of these games are expensive and their licences are time limited; typically, such a licence is only valid during the duration of the course. In general, these games are not available for the public as part of informal instructional courses. In Canada, teaching informal courses to immigrants and refugees, which involve data-driven decision making, to prepare them for future challenges they might encounter as business owners, can be challenging; especially considering language barriers and non-business-related backgrounds obtained outside of Canada. Furthermore, based on their decision-making styles, cognitive limitations, and past experiences, people may have an inaccurate perception of the problem or challenge they face, this could lead to poor decision making of the team they are part of and, therefore, this could reflect in the effectiveness of an organization as a whole. The objective of this research is to enrich current teaching tools in decision-making processes in entrepreneurship courses for newcomers in Canada with a comprehensive and visual representation of operational business problems involved in Business Intelligence and data analytics. More specifically, we designed and developed a 3D Business Simulation Game with randomized scenarios using modern technologies, such as Unreal Engine as the game engine; Adobe Fuse for the character creation, Mixamo for animation of the character, and Substance Painter for textures and materials for the assets. The research was conducted with the participation of the students of the Business Creation and Project Management course at VIRCS (Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society) where we tested this game on each one of the five units of the course. After designing, developing, and testing the 3D business simulation game, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation to investigate whether the decisions students made while playing were correct or not. We also evaluated whether they felt that the challenges were easier to understand, both as a team and individually, when they used the 3D business simulation game compared to only the written description of the problems. The main results we obtained from our study are the following: After playing the business simulation game, students became more aware of the importance of making correct decisions in different business scenarios. They made sure that the whole team understood the problem, and they felt generally good about their understanding of the course content. We also noticed that when the animation was not part of the business simulation game, they seemed to be confused when following written instructions. This indicate that they depended on the animations for their decision-making. We believe that, in some ways, the course and the 3D business simulation game we created for this research were a great opportunity to observe students becoming more confident in their future in Canada as entrepreneurs. We observed that, once the game has been used, the students become more participatory in class, the discussion of the course material increases, and in general, the students seem to enjoy the course more.



Operations Research, Decision Support Systems, Entrepreneurship, Linear Programming, Optimization, Information Visualization, Human–Computer Interaction, Business Ethics, Data Privacy, Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, User Experience, Learning Experience, Simulation, Management Sciences, Operations Research, Sustainability, Information Systems