Tuesday, December 05, 2006

There's Gotta Be A Way To Do This......

Thinking about my post "Good Workflow Through Games" and my comments on Dr. Karrer's blog, I am disappointed to find that I am spending more time poking holes and no time fixing them. This griping phase may be part of the process.....

Still, there's gotta be a way to do this.....

Today's Washington Post includes an article on how Madden NFL teaches people the nuances of football strategy.

I'm thinking aloud, please humor me for the following.....

Football, to me, is all about predicting what the other side will do. How will this action cause the other to react.

There are many strategies that a coach uses to achieve the desired result. From what I can tell, these are carefully scripted in advance.

During the game, there are 2 areas of improvisation: the coach who changes a planned strategy mid-game (manager) and the player who reacts during the play (implementation specialist). These actions fall within a range of possibilities determined by the rules of the game and the laws of physics.

Madden NFL has been around a since 1989. With each version, the programmers have added more plays and more variables as football evolves. I suspect the decision mechanism behind this game is incredibly sophisticated.

So what does Madden NFL have to do with developing a gaming program that will assist with business workflows?

I'm thinking that a successful workflow game would include the following characteristics:

- Focus on a workflow that stresses cause / effect. Customer service and sales are the obvious choices. In my context, maybe a game that focuses on the patient experience or whether a piece of information successfully makes it from one point to another. Many of the workflows that I deal with tend not to have an obvious predictive angle so I may have to stretch more than most.

- An easy way to add options as different variables and strategies become apparent. I haven't sat through a process meeting yet where they mapped the current process accurately on the first try.

- Development of limitations to the process. What are the limits of what you do without closing off options? Each piece of the game would have to be carefully defined.

Kids (including my friends) happily spend many hours on Madden NFL. Our employers won't give us that much time. Furthermore, we have to take the next step of taking the solutions learned in the game and implementing them to people. I know that some NFL players play Madden NFL, but I haven't found anyone admitting that it impacts the way they play the game. Yet.

1 comment:

Karl Kapp said...


You might be interested to know that Joe Paterno, the coach of the Penn State football team who has been coaching for over 40 years has developed a new training technique based on Madden Football.

He provides his quarterbacks and receivers with copies of the Penn State playbook on a PlayStation2 memory card. The players plug into the game Madden 2006™ and practice running the plays to learn the routes and moves (October 2005 Sports Illustrated).

The virtual playbook combined with the simulated game provides the players with an opportunity to practice plays and run routes virtually and we can see an improvement in the Penn State team since 2005. This allows them to be better prepared to run routes and make moves during practices and on game day.

Hey, if it is good enough for Joe Pa...its good enough for instrutional designers, we just need to find a way, as you suggested, to create shorter, more focused workflow games. How about starting with an even simpiler concept for new employees like helping employees work through the email workflow.

We don't need a 3D game to do that but a game to help the learners classify and prioritize different types of email might be of value. One could use 2D graphics representing email items.