M. Teixeira Pinto, P. Costa

The human capital of employees is one of the principal factors that create the competitive potential for enterprises. Employees are required to function in uncertain and changeable conditions to which they must adapt. That is the reason why companies pay increasing attention to developing the skills and abilities of their staff and training is still the best method to develop employees’ skills.

To be effective, training methods should be closer to the real world of work. The most effective methods for diminishing the gap between theory and practice is using experiential methods based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), like virtual strategic games.

With a promise of creating an immersive experience in an entrepreneurial environment, the objective of BGame – and initiative funded by the European Commission (ERASMUS+) was to develop an innovative learning & training tool where players (business trainers, managers, representatives from SMEs and entrepreneurs) could select different scenarios, such as Heat Pump Factory or Energy Drinks and lead their company towards successful internationalization. The game was complemented with e-learning resources that help players to take decisions in any round as it presents a detailed explanation of the topics of the game, such as strategic management, international marketing, foreign markets, finances, among others.

BGame (www.bgame-project) was designed as a training tool that allows players to understand basic rules of strategy and market functioning. The user not only has to fulfil customer needs by adjusting the product and service parameters but to coordinate all aspects of the enterprise holistically. The game allows its users to experiment and make independent decisions regarding the operation of virtual enterprises.

This learning-by-doing approach is very effective, especially in business education. However, this approach can be complemented by in-depth discussions of some of the key concepts covered. The main aim of a virtual management game is not therefore winning but rather learning from the simulation and through the discussion of the decisions. The realities and reproducible situations, which are experienced in the game, lead to new knowledge.

BGame introduced friendly and healthy competition into the training session, which is an excellent way to keep participants engaged and focused. Moreover, by exploring a wide variety of topics, participants in BGame were able to develop skills in strategic management and internationalisation, through resources that not only can be applied in their workspace but also are based on the reality of the workspace. On top of this, BGame made training sessions more interactive by using an innovative approach to training. This virtual game simulated real companies, with real products and real consumers, in a risk-free environment. Trainees, who were Business Trainers and SME representatives were able to take decisions in a risk-free environment, while learning how to successfully use BGame training in their sessions and in their companies.