Why did we choose a Californian winery as the venue of FLIGBY simulation? First of all we needed a good story which was able to capture people’s imagination of course. But there is more to it.
Prof. Csikszentmihalyi himself proposed the subject of a winery back in 2008. He had two good arguments. First that wine itself is already a “well positioned” theme. Anyone who can consume a glass of wine with relish, that person might also be opened for such great truths of life like Flow. The other is a Hungarian relation. The Californian wine business was established by our adventurous compatriot Agoston Haraszthy in 1850s, shortly after he resigned from his position as a Sheriff of San Diego, but right before he had been eaten by a crocodile in South America.
It is a fact that people love to learn through stories. A good story is a building block not just for video games, but also for “serious games” using professional game mechanisms. It is especially true in the interactive film genre. The narrative context has several important psychological advantages that help keep people engaged:
- Business case studies work best as stories – We love to hear and tell stories. You can’t just give facts. You need to place them in the context of events sequenced with a beginning, middle, and end, some tension about how things will resolve, and detail about the people involved – that will engage audiences in something that becomes real because they can imagine themselves in the same narrative space.
- Narratives tell players what to do – Game narratives give players hints about what to do, and that helps with execution and tactics applied to larger goals. Game stories are designed as unfinished frameworks where players complete the narrative by living it.
- Narrative increases Excitement and Attention – The uncertainty that all good stories have, creates excitement and tension that sustains player involvement, and it focuses players on resolution and release (players attempt to reduce this excitement, especially if its source is a conflict).
- Stories are effective – It’s easier to remember information when it’s presented in a narrative format.
Still the question arises quite often, how a fictional Californian winery is capable of modeling real leadership and organizational dilemmas. In other words: whether it is possible to build up a learning field that is relevant for management challenges on an act that takes place in a winery. We are convinced that it is. We have five important arguments to prove it:
- The winery as a site is sufficiently abstract – if the simulation were played in a “normal office” (a site where most of the users spend great amount of their time daily), people would be focusing primarily on the differences between the game and their own praxis. They would enlarge such details that could substantiate the differences between the reality of their daily experiences and the story of the simulation. This would significantly impede the recognition of essential correlations and the starting of experiential learning and experimenting. Therefore winery is a good site: people more or less know (or at least they think they know) what is going on at such place, so they accept the story line and they focus on the conflicts highlighted by the simulation instead of unimportant details. Therefore the attention can be focused on a specific target.
- The story was inspired by real situations – all the organizational dilemmas presented in FLIGBY were inspired by real conflicts and common challenges that often occur in a multinational working environment. Our leading script writer spent more than ten years in large enterprise environments, and his work was supported by an international team of professionals in leadership development. Prof. Csikszentmihalyi also played an active role in the finalization of the story line and the characters and also in the development of the feedback system. So, the site is a winery but the organizational dynamics displayed in the game are much more general and commonly known.
- Microsimulation – FLIGBY is a microsimulation: it doesn’t model the whole professional operation of a winery, but only a portion of it that is focusing on the conflicts within the management. There are no economic or viniculture issues in the focus but rather such personal and organizational conditions that are needed for the development of such cooperation.
- “Edutainment” – Expectations towards to leadership development are significantly changed over the last couple of years. The participants of company trainings became such “internal customers“ whose time is expensive and their needs are complex. They want practical and easily applicable knowledge, while the time spent in training cannot be boring, and also direct feedback and independent time schedule spent with learning must describe the learning process. The winery environment shown in FLIGBY offers an exciting and entertaining form of learning, while the virtual interactions with the colleagues of the organization are realistic models of real workplace relationships.
- Managerial tasks are constantly transforming – Dealing with interesting things is becoming less privileged in today’s world. It’s rather an option that the network-based economy and project-oriented work organizations offer as a real alternative for more and more professionals. It is a popular intellectual challenge to learn about organizations that differs from the daily work routine and also serves as a strong motivation for studying.