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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

BP Spill NOT Fun and Games...but games could help

Cover of board game that outlined possible disaster scenarios.

In the 1970's a board game called Offshore Oil Strike was created by BP and it has a number of elements related to the current spill situation. The goal of the game is become an oil tycoon by digging for oil offshore and, naturally, players encounter hazards such as blow outs and oil spills and clean up costs. Too bad no BP executives ever played that game.

Imagine if BP executives and managers were encouraged to go through game-like scenarios on a frequent basis trying to develop contingency plans, worst case scenarios and clean up efforts to react to a spill that "most likely will never happen." The act of playing a "game" can open up thinking processes that might not be considered in normal day-to-day operations but become apparent when one player is trying to "out maneuverer" another. Translate those lessons learned into activities and the spill might have been prevented or at least the clean up efforts might have been better coordinated.

See more at '70s board game contains eerie BP oil spill scenarios

Another approach might be to use a video game-like scenario to help think of creative ideas to clean up the spill. According to the article Crisis In The Gulf: BP OIl Spill Video Game Lets You Stop The Leak

The game allows players to try their hand at stopping the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.Called Crisis In The Gulf, the game, released by Super Boise, challenges gamers to stop the oil spill from an exploded oil rig owned by "DP" using whatever means necessary--from cannons and torpedos to high-powered lasers.

Imagine if the game was based on real live data feeds from the spill and the ocean and engineers could then run through various scenarios and simulations to gage the reaction to their clean up efforts. A realistic game/simulation could be created to provide the opportunity to test theories and interventions. Now imagine engineers playing these types of games BEFORE a crisis, think of how much better they would be if a real crisis occurred.

The answer needs to be more games and simulations to help prepare workers, executives and government officials for the "unthinkable" because, obviously, it wasn't unthinkable, game developers were way ahead of BP executives.
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3 comments:

CG Computers said...

Very interesting Dr. Kapp! How ironic also lol.

ZhengLiu said...

IT'S THE FIRST TIME THAT I HEARD THAT GAMES CAN BE USED IN LEARNING. IN CHINA, MANY INSTRUCTORS THINK THAT STUDENTS CANNOT LEARN ANYTHING IN GAMES INSTEAD WASTING TIME.HOWEVER,AFTER READING THE ARTICLE,I THINK IF THE SCENARIO OF THE GAME IS DESIGNED REASONABLELY,IT IS GOOD FOR STUDENTS TO LEARN.STUDENTS MAY ENJOY THE PROCESS OF LEARNING.

Anthony said...

Great blog Dr. Kapp! I agree, executives, engineers, and even common employees can learn from gaming. Simulations are great ways to effectively teach and run through What if scenarios. Some industries such as the military and healthcare use simulations to train. This can help ensure you make a better cognitive decision when the real-life situation appears.

I think this is good for all industries (Oil, Financial, etc). As you mentioned, it would afford a better outcome or at least keep them thinking. A kin to carrying an umbrella when there's a chance of rain. If you carry it, usually you won't need it. Not very scientific but you get the point ;-)

Tony (57.579 F2010)