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Articles Related to the Simulation Industry

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Case Study: Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ – Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations.

Introducing the Rules for BaFa' BaFa' Introducing the Rules for Professional BaFa’ BaFa’.

The Situation:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 Community Involvement Training Conference was held on August 4-6, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. The competition for presenters was very strong, they received 118 proposals and only had slots for 37 presentations. Skeo Solutions were excited to be chosen as one of the presenters for their training session, Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture. Living and Learning the Alpha Culture.

Skeo Solutions decided to incorporate Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ into the workshop and had received some encouragement from their EPA contact who remembered BaFa’ BaFa’ from her Peace Corps training some years ago. Living and Learning the Beta Culture. Living and Learning the Beta Culture.

The Approach:

Skeo Solutions Building Cultural Competence (BCC) training approach is very different from traditional USA “diversity” training. You can get a snapshot of it here:

According to the lead facilitator for this session,  Michael Lythcott, “The design is kind of an amalgam of materials I helped develop for Peace Corps Volunteers and corporate executive training’s I helped design while I was at MS&B International working to prepare US executives (and their non-matrixed spouses) for long-term overseas assignments.” Discussion and Analysis of BaFa' BaFa' Experience. Discussion and Analysis of BaFa’ BaFa’ Experience.

Skeo Solutions decided to integrate BaFa’ BaFa’ at the beginning of this full day training opportunity. According to Lythcott, “people […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:05+00:00 September 14th, 2015|Categories: BaFa'BaFa', Customers Used - Business & Government Agencies, Simulations|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Case Study: Professional BaFa’ BaFa’ – Building Cultural Competence: Tools to Foster More Productive Community Relations.

Links Related To Our Products

There are countless ways organizations have used our products in business and educational settings. Here are a few links to relevant websites relating to using our simulations. We are just starting this resources so be sure to check back often. Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to have a link included.

Index of Topics:

BaFa’ BaFa’ – Schools & Charities Version
BaFa’ BaFa’ used with Medical Educators
StarPower – Leadership – Use/Abuse of Power
General Links To Our Website

BaFa’ BaFa’ – Schools & Charities Version

  • The Civic Education Project (CEP), an international non-profit organization, has supported grassroots efforts to reform higher education (very good description of how it’s been used and some take aways). Teaching and Learning Resources: BaFa-BaFa Game.
  • Sonoma State University Debriefing from BaFa’  BaFa’ (excellent series of discussion questions pertaining to creating and communicating in a community setting).
  • Debwewin project website: anti-racism initiative for […]

Presentation Before American Water Works – Using Pumping the Colors

Presentation Before The American Water Works Association
Annual Conference – Dallas, Texas

By Garry Shirts, Ph.D. with Mr. Jack Markel, American Water Works

Thank you Jack. The first time I met Jack, he was so angry with one of my partners he got up in the middle of our demonstration of Pumping The Colors® and walked out. A colleague of mine chased him down the hall, discovered what was wrong and apologized for our mistake. Jack thought about it for a few minutes and decided to return to the seminar. At the time, I thought, “We will never see him again,” but a year later he incorporated Pumping the Colors into one of the American Water Works management programs. […]

I knew from that incident that he’s a no nonsense, get down to work, let’s get it done kind of guy. I like to believe that that no-nonsense, bottom line, practical approach to the world is what attracted him to Pumping the Colors.

Before I elaborate on that point, I’d like to point out that when Jack and his team developed their program they did something that only a few people in training do. He didn’t assume what the training needs were, he did a needs analysis. He then designed the program to meet those needs. He then sold it to top management and said he wouldn’t proceed unless they supported the project. They had to be convinced. It was not an easy sale.

Then after the program he evaluated its effectiveness. He found that his program produced positive results in his managers in 8 out of 10 behaviors measured. That’s doing it right from beginning to end.

In the time I have available, I’d like to […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:16+00:00 February 24th, 2014|Categories: Pumping The Colors|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Presentation Before American Water Works – Using Pumping the Colors

Cohesion Through Diversity

A presentation before the Indiana State Office of Minority Health at the Minority Health Conference on August 21, 2009.

Cohesion Through Diversity pdf (view as a pdf)

Cohesion Through Diversity

Indiana State Office of Minority Health Minority Health Conference

R. Garry Shirts, Ph.D.

Thank you for that introduction.

I’m delighted to be here.

For the past 40 years I’ve been creating a type of learning experience called simulations. In the type I design, groups of 30 to 40 people interact from 3 to 8 hours within a set of rules designed to create emotions and challenges that are similar to real life. During this time they do such activities as set goals, allocate resources, negotiate, compete for resources, make alliances, use or abuse power and, in general, try to solve problems or meet challenges that develop during the experience.

These simulations have a game like quality, but I don’t like to refer to them as games, as games almost always have a zero sum outcome. In other words, one group or individual wins and another loses. In the simulation there may be winners and losers, but more often than not, if the groups and individuals cooperate everyone can win.

BaFa’ BaFa’, one of the most popular simulations I’ve created, was designed to give people the same kinds of feelings one gets when experiencing another culture.

I believe the person who learns the most from a simulation is the person who designed it. To design one, one must research the topic, try out many different prototypes, and view the topic from many different perspectives. It is an ideal way to learn about individuals and groups because you are always asking yourself, how will […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:22+00:00 February 7th, 2014|Categories: BaFa'BaFa'|Tags: , |Comments Off on Cohesion Through Diversity

A Taxonomy of Simulation Related Activities

By R. Garry Shirts

I developed the following schema to help me think more accurately about “gaming and simulation” activities. The basis of this classification system is three kinds of very different but related activities: simulations, games, contests.

If we combine these three activities into all possible combinations, we get the following categories:

  • Simulations
  • Games
  • Contests
  • Simulation Contests
  • Simulation Games
  • Game Contest
  • Simulation Games Contests

These seven categories can account for most of the activities that pass for “simulation” type activities. Let’s examine them one by one. […]

Pure Simulations (Non-contest, Non-game)

Much of the confusion around the word “simulation” occurs because we want to differentiate between the noun “simulation” and the infinitive “to simulate.” In the simulation gaming field, a simulation is something more than that which simulates; the term “simulation” has been reserved for the modeling or simulation of systems which can be represented in part by mathematical or quasi-mathematical formulas.

In the taxonomy proposed here, however, that distinction is not recognized. A simulation, rather, is anything that simulates or models reality. Listing representative examples of “simulations” from the very abstract to the concrete, we arrive at a surprisingly varied array of activities:

  • Mathematical formulas
  • Models of:
    • Physical systems
    • Military, industrial, and economic systems
    • Social systems
  • Role Playing
  • Film Making
  • Literature
  • Painting
  • Sculpture

The first four items unquestionably qualify as simulations in the traditional sense. Role-playing, however, is generally regarded as a lower class cousin, and film making, art, and sculpture as members of unrelated though honorable families. They are included here as “simulations” because:

  1. The Sculptor, artist, filmmaker, and writer, are, in fact, simulating reality much of the time.
  2. Recognition of the similarity of the artist-as-simulator and the engineer/social/scientist educator-as-simulator may serve as a means of bridging the communication gap between C.P. Snow’s two cultures: the technocrats and the artists.
  3. It is possible that we […]
By | 2016-11-23T05:11:19+00:00 October 16th, 2013|Categories: Customers Used - Schools & Charities|Tags: , |Comments Off on A Taxonomy of Simulation Related Activities

Inventory of Hunches

by Hall T. Sprague

Following are some guesses about the educational value of simulations. None of them is proved, but they are more than just idle hunches, since they were formulated by instructors and students with extensive experience in their use. These may help you to decide how you will use the technique and what the outcomes might be. […]

1. Maybe simulations are “motivators.” Their main payoff may be that they generate enthusiasm for or commitment to: (a) learning in general, (b) social studies or some other subject area, (c) a specific discipline like history, (d) a specific course, (e) a specific teacher.

2. Maybe a simulation experience leads students to more sophisticated and relevant inquiry. That is, perhaps the important thing is what happens after the simulation is over, when students ask about the “model” which determined some of the elements of the simulation, about real world analogues to events and factors in the simulation, about processes like communication, about ways of dealing with stress and tension. Maybe participation leads naturally into a critique and analysis of the simulation by the students, and maybe this can lead easily into a model building experience. And maybe the greatest learning occurs when students build their own simulations.

3. Maybe simulations give participants a more integrated view of some of the ways of people. Maybe they see the interconnectedness of political, social, interpersonal, cultural, economic, historical, etc., factors. Maybe simulations help people understand the idea of a “social system.” Maybe the simulation experience helps them integrate ideas and information they already have.

4. Maybe participants in simulations learn skills, decision-making, resource allocation, communication, persuasion, influence-resisting. Or maybe they learn how important those processes are. Maybe they learn […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:30+00:00 October 16th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: |Comments Off on Inventory of Hunches

Ten ‘Mistakes’ Commonly Made by Persons Designing Educational Simulations and Games

By R. Garry Shirts

If someone were to ask me to identify the mistakes most often made by game designers, including myself, I would, after assuring myself that the questioner understands that game design is a very personal activity and that there are no right answers, reply in the following dogmatic manner: […]

1. Taking a Linear Approach to Game Design.

Most articles and books on simulation design suggest that one should follow a logical sequence of development: first define your objectives, then identify the actors and so on. Such prescriptions are accurate post-facto descriptions of what emerges from the game design process but are not, for the most part, accurate descriptions of that process. I suppose that one can design simulations in this manner, but such an approach defines the important parameters of the game before one starts and precludes an imaginative solution.

The designing process, in my experience, is not sequential at all—new idea “F” requires an adjustment or rethinking of ideas “A” “B” “C” and “D”. And such adjustments in turn may suggest changes in idea “F”. One moves back and forth among the ideas and parts of the game much as the performer who keeps a dozen or so plates of china spinning simultaneously on tall slender polls.

2. Trying to Work with Non-Simpatico Personalities.

It isn’t always possible to choose one’s game designing mates, but if given a choice, they should be selected carefully. Especially for the beginning stages when ideas are being generated. One negative person can stifle the creativity of thousands. Many different skills are required to develop educational simulations. The person who may be very creative at thinking up alternatives may not be able to write, follow the game […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:35+00:00 October 15th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |Comments Off on Ten ‘Mistakes’ Commonly Made by Persons Designing Educational Simulations and Games

Barbara Steinwachs describes BaFa’ BaFa’

Note: Garry Shirts sent out a request for facilitators for BaFa’ BaFa’ to the NASAGA (North American Simulation and Games Association) news list. In reponse to that request one of the NASAGA members asked, “What is BaFa’ BaFa’?” This is Barbara Steinwachs’ answer. Reprinted by permission of Barbara Steinwachs. […]

In response to designer Garry Shirts’ request for Northwest facilitators for BaFa’ BaFa’, someone asks “What is BaFa’ BaFa’?”

First designed in the mid 1970’s and recently revised, this is one of Garry Shirts’ (also the designer of the classic StarPower, which explores power relationships among haves and have-nots) most used and wonderful simulation games. Originally developed for the Navy, for cross-cultural misunderstandings faced by young sailors (Sandy Fowler was on the original research team), BaFa’ BaFa’ immediately became a generic game for use in many multicultural settings: international cross-cultural situations, domestic “diversity” issues, teacher-student, doctor-patient, & any setting where two groups of different “cultures” engage with one another.

It sets up two hypothetical cultures, Alpha & Beta, in two different rooms. The cultures are carefully constructed to be different from one another but with basics which can be misinterpreted if you come from the opposite culture– e.g. leadership, currency, activities, etc. In a very simple format, participants visit the other culture in small groups for a few minutes each. After each visit, each culture briefly discusses what happened and what was learned during the visit. When everyone has visited, the game is over. A splendidly designed debriefing guides players to explore their interpretations (mostly misinterpretations because they were made based only on the home culture experience of the one interpreting) and compare them to what actually was going on, and why.

Even though the visit […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:45+00:00 October 14th, 2013|Categories: BaFa'BaFa'|Tags: |Comments Off on Barbara Steinwachs describes BaFa’ BaFa’

Philosophy of Science, What Is a Game?

By BERNARD SUITS, University of Waterloo

By means of a critical examination of a number of theses as to the nature of game-playing, the following definition is advanced: To play a game is to engage in activity directed toward bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by specific rules where the means permitted by the rules are more limited in scope than they would be in the absence of the rules, and where the sole reason for accepting such limitations is to make possible such activity.

Prompted by the current interest of social and behavioral scientists in games and encouraged by the modest belief that it is not demonstrably impossible for philosophers to say something of interest to scientists, I propose to formulate a definition of game playing. […]

1. Game-Playing as the Selection of Inefficient Means. Mindful of the ancient canon that the quest for knowledge obliges us to proceed from what is knowable to us to what is knowable in itself, I shall begin with the commonplace that playing games is different from working. Games, therefore, might be expected to be what work, in some salient respect, is not. Let me now baldly characterize work as “technical activity,” by which I mean activity in which an agent (as rational worker) seeks to employ the most efficient available means for reaching a desired goal. Since games, too, evidently have goals, and since means are evidently employed for their attainment, the possibility suggests itself that games differ from technical activities in that the means employed in games are not the most efficient. Let us say, then, that games are goal-directed activities in which inefficient means are intentionally (or rationally) chosen. […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:13:53+00:00 October 14th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |Comments Off on Philosophy of Science, What Is a Game?

Why I Hate Reality TV

By Garry Shirts
January 2005

I am talking specifically about Survivor and The Weakest Link. I haven’t watched any other reality TV shows but I assume they follow a similar format. Both of these programs are zero sum contests. If one person wins another person loses. Most sports are zero sum games. I enjoy watching sports, betting on sports and participating in sports, so it’s not the fact that these are zero sum contests that bother me. […]

In the Survivor show, teams compete against other teams and team members also compete against each other. I don’t mind teams competing against other teams, that’s a reflection of the real world. Pepsi competes against Coca Cola, Toyota against General Motors, etc. But the assumption that teams are made up of people who are competing against every other member of the team galls me.

There are such teams but, as in these reality shows, they are highly dysfunctional. The arguments, the sabotage, the conspiracies, the secret alliances, the third party communications that characterize the interaction on these teams make interesting viewing, but I’m concerned that people will start to believe that this is the only model for a team. Believing and acting as though every other team member is your potential enemy greatly reduces the team’s effectiveness and suboptimizes any system for which the team is responsible It also creates pain and suffering for everyone but the winner and even the winner often comes out a loser because of the damage done to his or her reputation and to his or her feelings of self worth.

In our Power of Leadership simulation, participants assume it is a zero sum game and generally base their decisions and behavior […]

By | 2017-05-02T10:14:03+00:00 October 12th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |Comments Off on Why I Hate Reality TV