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How are games made- how much do they cost ?

Management Game Techniques and International NGOs (Part #6)

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The first step in designing a game is to decide very clearly what the game is to be used for. This establishes the criterion by which irrelevant frills can subsequently be assessed and rejected to keep the game simple.

The second step is to list out the decisions that it is required that each player or team should make. These decisions should then be checked through carefully to determine whether each is absolutely necessary in terms of the criterion above.

The third step is to work out in detail the desired effect of each decision-the results it will have. The game becomes more sophisticated if several decisions interact (particularly those of all the teams in the game) to give a particular result e. g. quality, price, advertising may determine sales. The relationships between decision areas and results can be obtained from historical data for the organization. They can be summarized in graphs or tables.

The fourth step is to decide whether the game is to be a manual or computer game. In the first case preparation costs can be kept low (executives time plus clerical costs, simple materials, counters, etc.) but the game must then remain fairly simple or else processing of decisions becomes burdensome, slow and open to inaccuracy. It is difficult to run large games on manual systems. Using a computer involves costly prograin testing and it is costly to run the game- it is, however, much easier and much faster, and with good contacts it is generally possible to get free computer time. The computer, of course, allows many complexities to be introduced into the game-it also adds prestige to the game, which can be very important.

The fifth step is to test the game repeatedly to discover the flaws and decisions which produce peculiar results-these 'bugs' have to be removed. One existing computer game is so well balanced and flexible that it will react correctly to decisions to close down the factory, fire the workers and go bankrupt and will still prepare a valid balance sheet, income statement, etc.

A complete manual game could be prepared by anyone with limited mathematical knowledge -although, of course, the more sophisticated the game the more sophisticated the mathematics required. A computer game would have to pass from stage four into the hands of a computer service bureau with detailed written instructions as to what was required.