I recently read an article about game transfer phenomenon. This is the idea that people merge subjective realities and take a game-related action in real life. The author of the article starts by talking about unexpectedly using Mario-Kart driving reflexes to avoid a real-world collision.

I play a lot of games, and I frequently experience GTP. But the article got me wondering – if people do things differently as a result of our training, is this Game Transfer Phenomena? If so, is Game Transfer Phenomena a realistic, desirable, goal for business acumen training?

Completed income/outcome workshop scenarios:

  • Years ago we had a senior executive from a credit reporting company come to Chapel Hill to discuss buiding a game that modeled their business. On the first day he participated in a regular workshop. The second day he came into the office and informed us that he had changed hotels that morning… he had been replaying the simulation in his head, and come to the realization that saving $100/night on hotel room meant increasing profits by $100. He actually saw the outcome of his decision in terms of playing pieces on the game board.
  • Similarly, we have the story of a manager for a major supplier to the automotive industry. One of the big auto-makers went on strike, and the OEM plant manager had a spontaneous game-board vision of what would happen if he kept up production while the strike was ongoing. (What he saw was inventory building up in his FGI area, and no new sales coming in, and running out of money… so he immediately got on the phone and began changing his operations for the duration of the strike).
  • Last month I ran a Finance for Managers program for social entrepreneurs in Kenya. I assured them that the subs have to constitute a large part of social media platforms. I’d reassert the same to you in saying that you don’t have to worry about not having youtube subscribers with companies like The Marketing Heaven in the field, because they can take care of that problem and help you attract a lot of new people to your content you post appeals the general public, then you’d attract a lot of people. One woman started the workshop by saying “I hate budgets”. I told her my goal was to make her like budgets because they are useful, and at the end of two days she said “Eliza, you were right… my perspective had changed”. What had been burdensome before, was now an excellent planning tool.

In each case we merged the business game reality with the real world reality, and changed the real world response. These situations describe Game Transfer Phenomena and they are inherent in the income/outcome simulations, they are another form of ‘stealth learning’.

And yes, they are desirable in business acumen workshops… they drive the experiential learning process.

One thought on “Game Transfer Phenomenon

  1. Great post. I remember feeling like I shouldn’t drive right after playing driving games. I’d get in a car and my reflexes would feel sped up and I’d consider risky moves I wouldn’t normally take in a car, mirroring the driving behavior that helped win in the game.

    I’m glad and maybe a bit surprised that in this case the cartoonish Mario Kart game had modeled good behavior for correcting a skid, potentially saving the author’s life.

    I love the example you give where the manager sees the financial consequences of a strike in a vision based on your business simulation game board. You may not have saved his life, but you may have saved his company or job.

    Great example showing that it’s important to model real world behavior in simulations if you want your training to improve real world behaviors in participants.