Simulation & Gaming:
An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Practice and Research
Simulation and Gaming and the
Teaching of Sociology
SUGGESTIONS FOR RUNNING SIMULATIONS/GAMES IN THE CLASSROOM
(A synthesis of ideas from Garry Shirts, Richard D. Duke, Cathy S. Greenblat and personal experience).
1. Be prepared. Be sure to:
A. Read the director's manual.
B. Do a trial run (use friends, relatives, etc.).
C. In minimum terms, being prepared means:
Know what physical arrangements are needed;
Know the sequence of events;
Know what to say to get things started;
Know the artifacts and how and when to use them;
Know how you want to debrief the activity (especially questions you want to ask).
2. Do not give too many directions at the start.
A. Explain the main objective of the exercise.
B. Explain enough of the game to get them started.
C. Answer more complicated questions as they arise.
D. Walk through the first round if it cannot be explained simply.
E. Use handouts or wall charts if the rules and sequences are lengthy.
3. Use assistants for routine operations:
A. Discourage nonparticipant observers. Use those who do not want to play as assistants.
B. Assistants can pass out routine items, so your time is free to monitor the game, answer
questions, and keep things moving.
4. Know your strategy for assigning participants to groups/roles.
A. Your strategy should appear to be random rather than selective.
B. Assignment of two or more persons to one role will increase interaction, and it will
cushion against the effects of players leaving early or nonperformance.
5. Keep the simulation moving.
A. It is better to go too fast than too slow.
B. All decisions called for in the game should be somewhat rushed.
C. The game should be stopped at the peak of interest. Do not let it start to drag.
6. The game rules are like natural laws and should not be broken by the participants. Do not allow
cheating. However, "person laws" (or those which emerge between participants) can be violated
if the parties feel so inclined.
7. The debriefing should proceed from simple descriptive questions about what happened (giving
participants a chance to vent their feelings) to questions dealing with explanation, analysis, and
finally to generalizations about the referent system that the game mirrors.
A. What happened?
B. Why does it happen in most plays of the game?
C. How does what happened compare with real world?
D. What would happen if . . .?
WHY USE SIMULATIONS AND GAMES?: A BRIEF SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
1. They increase student motivation.
2. They facilitate the affective aspect of learning.
3. They enhance interpersonal relations and promote interpersonal reward structures for learning.
4. They do at least as well as conventional techniques in achieving cognitive outcomes.
5. They tend to produce improved communication and discussion within the classroom.
6. They tend to produce a more integrated view of the broader context within which sociological
7. They promote individual discovery in learning from the learner's own perspective.
In summary: They plug many gaps which conventional methods of instruction are unlikely to fill; they
round out the learning experience.