Published: June 12, 2019

Leadership VR Game Wins Silver Medal In International Contest

Serious Play, an international learning conference, has awarded a Silver Medal to the leadership game 'Earth-to-Mars'. The game uses Virtual Reality in a learning experience co-developed by eLearning Studios and Headspring.


Thiago Kiwi

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Leadership VR Game Receives A Silver Medal By Serious Play

Leaders work in challenging circumstances — staying focused under pressure, dealing with complex and conflicting priorities, and pivoting when needs require. The serious leadership game, Earth-to-Mars, uses Virtual Reality to simulate such pressures in a learning experience co-developed by eLearning Studios and Headspring. Headspring is the executive development joint venture of the Financial Times and IE Business School.

Serious Play, an international learning conference, awarded a Silver Medal to the leadership game, which will be announced at dual conferences in Orlando, USA, and Montreal, Canada this July. Earth-to-Mars is the first of its kind in the executive learning space, allowing leaders to test themselves in formidable situations.

Customers include organisations in the UK, USA, and India. The leadership game is designed for 2 players connected wirelessly. One player experiences the Mars basecamp in Virtual Reality, the other runs Earth’s Mission Control using an interactive tablet. The 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,” says 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 leadership 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 leadership game’s learning outcomes include perseverance, keeping focused under pressure, evidence-based decision-making, negotiating in the moment of need, and dealing with the unknown.”

To validate his point about its flexible design, one customer has already adapted it to his needs. 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 leadership game hits on all the aspects of good learning design in that it's immersive so that it focuses attention, memorable so that it aids in long-term memory thinking, and it's 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 leadership 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 eLearning Studios

eLearning Studios (ELS) offers a portfolio of learning technology design and development services including Virtual Reality (VR) training, eLearning, mobile learning, gameful eLearning design, apps, Augmented Reality (AR), serious games and blended solutions. A selection of VR projects can be found here.

About Headspring

Headspring, the executive development joint venture of the Financial Times and IE Business School, empowers organisations to embrace change and inspire a culture of continuous learning. It achieves transformational results by working in partnership with organisations globally to co-create bespoke, future-focused learning designs that empower people, develop leaders and enhance the strengths of businesses. It designs and delivers customised education and leadership programmes, taking the business acumen, academic rigour and innovative approach of IE Business School and a global network of expert educators, adding the perspectives and skills of the most influential Financial Times journalists.

Headspring Executive Development was originally formed in 2015 by the Financial Times and IE Business School as the Corporate Learning Alliance. Visit Headspring here.

About The 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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