Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Tag Archives: SIMNOVATE

“Simnovating” in the health care sector


These past two days I have been fortunate to participate in some of the very successful Simnovate 2016 conference on health care innovation, organized by the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Innovative Learning at McGill University.

Yesterday I presented a very brief overview to the conference of the role that gaming can play in stimulating and encouraging innovation (Powerpoint). That was really just a warm-up, however, for the two-hour workshop I facilitated today on serious games for policy analysis (Powerpoint). Together with my gaming colleague Vince Carpini, we discussed both the insight that can be derived through gaming techniques and the essential questions that need to be addressed in designing and implementing such a game:

  1. What is the topic and purpose of the game?
  2. Who are the participants (and audience)?
  3. Which roles and functions need to be represented?
  4. Which general game approach will you use (and why)?
  5. How will you foster reflection and analysis? Collect data? How will this be used?
  6. What resources will you require?


The participants then broke into four groups, and each group worked collaboratively on developing a game idea. These were then briefed back to the session. Although my presentation had focused on gaming for policy analysis, groups were welcome to work on other types of ideas as well—after all, we didn’t want to stifle their innovative spirit!

  • The first game idea sought to develop empathy and communication skills in medical personnel. It did this through a system of briefing cards that could be used either in quick classroom games or a more complex role-play exercise. To avoid distorting their behaviour, players would initially be told that the simulation was intended to sharpen and assess clinical skills rather than interpersonal ones.
  • The second game group proposed an online multiplayer emergency management game to train staff on the steps involved in handling mass casualty incidents. Linked by voice and text, participants would manage everything from initial triage, treatment and referral at the incident site through to handling and treatment of incoming patients in the hospital
  • The third game proposal was designed to pre-test ideas for reducing emergency room crowding and wait-times. Participants would be drawn from hospital management, ER staff, non-ER ward personnel, and others. The idea here was to use a game mechanism to identify potential second and third order effects that could result from changes in facilities or procedures.
  • Finally, the fourth group developed a proposal for a social impact game. This would be an app playable on a smartphone in which the player would triage and treat patients in a fictional ER. The game itself would be fun and engaging, with cartoon-like characters and setting. However it would be intended to serve an educational purpose by sensitizing the public to ER procedures, helping them to understand wait times for non-urgent cases, and encouraging the use of other facilities (clinics, GPs) for non-urgent, non-serious cases.

As you can see, the participants generated some great ideas. Everyone seemed to be very engaged throughout the workshop, and I was certainly impressed by the energy and innovation that emerged from each of the groups.

SIMNOVATE 2016 conference


On 5-6 May 2016, the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning at McGill University will be hosting SIMNOVATE 2016, an international conference in Montréal on simulation, innovation, and education in the health care sector.

As part of the two day event I’ll be running a workshop on serious games for policy analysis, in conjunction with (AFTERSHOCK codesigner) Tom Fisher, and (gaming colleague) Vince Carpini.

You’ll find the latest version of the programme here (pdf), and registration information can be found at the links above.

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