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How are games played in practice ?

Management Game Techniques and International NGOs (Part #5)

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Games have been designed for varying numbers of participants from one to about fifty. The latter are the more typical and are organized as follows. The game generally begins with a briefing. The instructor describes the organizations and their objectives in the environment. He will explain the factors which will oppose those objectives and that the organization will only be successful if it correctly balances, its various decisions and plans at each stage of the game. The instructor then details the decisions that have to be made and the reports and other data on which these decisions must be based. All sorts of factors may be included in the game, such as: strikes, resignation of vital executives, loss of needed information, takeovers, Acts of God, etc.

Each controlling body then has to determine its specific objectives, evolve a structure (president, vice-president and other executive positions) and make decisions for the 'first period. These are usually recorded on pre-printed forms. At the end of the decision session the forms from each organization are collected and processed, either manually or, more commonly, by computer. New reports are distributed indicating the actual performance over the past period and new environmental factors to be taken into consideration. New decisions are made and the process is then repeated.

When a set number of periods have been played the results for the whole period are then displayed on graphs. The graphs are analyzed by the participants and the instructor to evaluate decisions and determine to what extent they led to the desired results. The game may have simulated a commercial situation, with, for example, four competing companies selling two products in three different markets. One company may have so balanced its decisions as to achieve the greatest return on the money invested.