Enhancing Responsible Business Education through Alternative Reality Gaming

This project sought to design an alternative reality game based on experiencing responsible business transformation. ARGs are on-line, multi-media stories based on realistic events that allow players to alter the story through a series of interactions. ARGs are constructed around a complex set of problems framed as a challenge for players to resolve. ARGS have proved highly effective in other contexts. By presenting responsible and sustainable business change as a heroic challenge that requires different skills, creativity and collaboration, we hope to inspire students to drive change in their future careers.


Start/end date: 2018-2019
Theme/focus: Alternative Reality Gaming
Discipline: Business School
Cohort size: 500


We developed a four stage alternative reality game – World without profit based in a future Birmingham running out of time following global financial crisis #6. Students are challenged to come up with innovative solutions repurposing existing business resources for a better future. 
Stage 1: Series of on-line tests and challenges to introduce students to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Stage 2: On-line interaction to design business solutions, including a series of debates, votes on taxation rates, changing social values and local priorities. 
Stage 3: Off-line preparation of responsible business plans and personal reflections
Stage 4: Optional participation in live Dragon Dens style event with leading business, third sector and government representatiives

What we did

We assembled a team of researchers at Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business to draft an initial game set up, which we then tested with different business leaders, civil society groups, NGOs and charities. 
Successfully piloted the concept of using responsible business games combined reflective assessment practices in third year UG module. 
We assembled a working group that involved Centre researchers and three students (PGR, PGT and UG) to co-design the objectives and rules of the game. We undertook research into successful games – playing and design.
Through a series of writing workshops we developed the game materials and developed our four stage game prototype ready for piloting in the spring semester, in order to fully integrate into Responsible Business: Theory and Practise module in September 2020. 
The prototype involves some structured challenges, unstructured game play, off-line responsible business plan and reflective learning, and real-life dragon dens challenge.

Looking ahead 

Once the first run of the game has been completed with a full cohort of 2nd year students, then we will look to partner with a number of businesses / charities/ professional institutions to further develop the game. In particular enhancing the scoring system and robustness of the game to allow remote access, and possible use in other contexts, including continuing professional development. 
We will look to research the impact and develop a number of academic articles on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of this innovative form of pedagogy. 

Further links, resources and communities of practice

It is 2030 and the world is reeling from the global financial crisis #6 which in England has led to the mass extinction of businesses. Virtually every business has gone bust and the government has ended up by default owning almost all business assets and business debt. It The government of national unity has taken radical measures that involved the cancelling of all debts, personal, business and national and effectively taken over the temporary financing of business, but national reserves can only sustain this for a year. 
Government is running out of money fast to pay for essential public services and urgently needs to find alternative ways to deliver these services, raise new revenues, resurrect businesses and national economy. 
Public opinion has turned against the business leaders who were able to escape with vast wealth to the sanctuary of tax havens and corrupt nations.


Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (2004)
Rules, Play and Culture:Towards an Aesthetic of Games – An Essay Frank Lantz & Eric Zimmerman http://www.ericzimmerman.com/publications  
Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the world better, 2011
SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient, Jane McGonigal  2010


For more information, contact the projects office on hefi.projects@contacts.bham.ac.uk, quoting reference CSLP196.