UpArrow Consulting: Innovative Learning Solutions

Publications | Rock Manager

Digital Games: Serious fun, serious learning outcomes

Joanne Turbett © 2010 UpArrow Consulting

The Problem

The article, published in 2009, Digital games: evaluating their potential for training in business processes made the point that with ERP implementations a training environment is created with the same functionality as the production environment to train the software transactions. But a similar environment is not created to train the business processes. It could be said that the software training environment provides a degree of immersion since the employee is practicing by doing. Practice by doing equates to 75% retention (National Training Laboratories in Brothers 2007). On the other hand business processes are trained using conceptual flow diagrams in a lecture format. A lecture equates to 5% retention (National Training Laboratories in Brothers 2007). Therefore it is worth exploring whether an immersive business process training environment can be created to address the disparity in retention.

The Solution

Rock Manager is serious game that provides an immersive environment for the procure-to-pay process. The training goal is to enable the employee to practice by doing and increase retention from 5% to 75%. The game's goal is to assist companies maintain their corporate reputation for paying vendors on time. Game Design In Rock Manager the employee is a band manager and their job is to procure the goods and services required for a gig. They need to follow the steps in the procure-to-pay process otherwise, if the vendor is not paid according to payment terms, the band will be sued for breach of contract and profit margins will suffer. As a consequence the band won't have the budget to purchase high end goods and services as their fame status improves. An important element in the game play was to make the employee experience the consequence of not following the business process. This is important because it is often someone else in the business process that experiences the consequences when the business process is not followed correctly, e.g. Accounts Payable. The game play was developed from learning outcomes that reflect the key frustrations and misconceptions that surround the procure-to-pay process. The game play was also developed from the design elements discussed in the article: Digital games: evaluating their potential for training in business processes.

Next Steps

The next step for Rock Manager is concept testing in a commercial environment. Research conducted by Blunt in an academic environment is positive regarding the efficacy of games-based learning. The research tested whether the use of video games improved academic performance. It was found that: "Classes that used the game had significantly higher means that those that did not; There were no significant differences between male or female scores, regardless of whether they played the game or not. Both genders scored significantly higher by playing the game; There were no significant differences between ethnic groups, while all ethnic groups scored significantly higher by playing the game; and Students aged 40 years and under scored significantly higher by playing the game and those students 41 years and older did not." (Blunt 2007). To facilitate concept testing organisations known to have an ERP system and interested L&D professionals are being invited to play Rock Manager and provide feedback.

To play Rock Manager click here


Blunt, R 2007 Does Game-Based Learning Work? Results from Three Recent Studies, Available from: <http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff798293.aspx> [9th September 2010].

Brother, S.K 2007, 'Game-based e-learning: The next level of staff training', Nursing Homes: Long Term Care Management, vol. 56, no. 3, pp78-80. Available from: Business Source Premier [9th April 2009].