Leadership VR Game to train on how to handle stress

That Leaders work in challenging circumstances, that we know. Staying focused under pressure, dealing with complex and conflicting priorities, and pivoting when business needs require it. All these, while having a life outside work. It is hard for every leader, but even harder when you are the company owner.

The learning industry constantly works on making these situations something that you can prepare for. MBAs work on case scenarios and the best possible outcomes. However, few courses or training work around the stress itself.

Have you seen the movie sully? Where Tom Hanks plays the pilot who landed a plain on the river Hudson. It is a perfect example of how situations could really change when you train for them, and how facing an stressful situation will be better solved if you have faced a similar situation before.

With this in mind, the serious game, Earth-to-Mars, uses Virtual Reality to simulate such pressures in a learning experience co-developed by eLearning Studios and Headspring.

Serious Play, an international learning conference, awarded a Silver Medal to the leadership game.Earth-to-Mars is the first of its kind in the executive learning space, allowing leaders to test themselves in formidable situations.

Customers include so far organisations in the UK, USA and India. The game is designed for two-players connected wirelessly. One player experiences the Mars basecamp in virtual reality, the other runs Earth’s Mission Control using an interactive tablet. Gameplay is estimated to take 30-45 minutes.

Together, players navigate a number of incidents requiring them to lead, collaborate and negotiate. As with life, things are not always straightforward; and they must cope with problems, twists and surprises along the way,” Nitin Thakrar, CEO of eLearning Studios.

Nitin Thakrar, CEO of eLearning Studios.

Headspring’s Learning Architect, Ian Shakeshaft says, “Serious games take on different meanings when used across different groups. That’s why Earth-to-Mars is designed to be flexible. Learning doesn’t depend on ‘winning’ the game, rather in how the players deal with challenges. We don’t learn from experiences per-se, but from reflecting on those experiences.”

He says, “Depending on how the facilitator wants to use it, the game’s learning outcomes include perseverance, keeping focused under pressure, evidence-based decision-making, negotiating in the moment, and dealing with the unknown.”

To validate his point about flexible design, one customer has already adapted it. Gertrude Mandeville, CEO of TCP Learning from Rhode Island, USA uses Earth-to-Mars in teaching business people how to learn more effectively. “We use it in our Cultivating Learning course. The game hits on all the aspects of good learning design in that its immersive so that it focuses attention, memorable so that it aids in long-term memory thinking, and its experiential so that it develops higher-order thinking.

Together, these elements demonstrate the difference between routine expertise and adaptive expertise. I also like that all the pedagogy was included!”

“We use it in our Cultivating Learning course. The game hits on all the aspects of good learning design in that its immersive so that it focuses attention, memorable so that it aids in long-term memory thinking, and its experiential so that it develops higher-order thinking.

Together, these elements demonstrate the difference between routine expertise and adaptive expertise. I also like that all the pedagogy was included!”

Mandeville is referring to the support materials developed by Claire Masson, Headspring’s expert for measuring learning impact, and Ian Shakeshaft. Masson says, “We have so many instructor aides that Ian and I had to create a visual guide on how and when to use these tools. The instructor is the lynch-pin in the successful deployment of any serious game. They have to take on different roles before, during and after gameplay. We created a teacher’s manual, debriefing presentation questions, tech support quick start guides, and so on.”

She says, “When we were storyboarding the game with eLearning Studios, the role of the instructor was an intricate part of every discussion. Game design decisions were informed by both educational research and work-based research. For us, it would only be considered successful if the game had a positive impact on people’s workday lives.”

About Serious Play Conference

Now in its eighth year, Serious Play is a leadership conference for professionals who embrace the idea that games can revolutionise learning. Speakers, who come from all parts of the globe, share their experience creating or using games in the corporation, classroom, healthcare institution, government and military and offer tips on how to move game-based education programs ahead.

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