Game-Based learning in Maritime Industry

When protein-folding game Foldit unraveled the crystal structure of Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M- PMV) retroviral protease, it proved that games can solve real-world problems; they are not just for entertainment and recreation activities. However, it is not that a game was never used for something more than entertainment. For centuries games have been serving as a medium for learning. For example, chess, a strategic game, was used to teach strategic thinking during the Middle Ages, and Kreigsspiel was invented in 1812 specifically to teach war strategy to Prussian officers. The core idea behind those game-based learning (GBL) techniques was to educate through failure, repetition, and achievement of goals. Almost in every game, the same concept is applied. A player starts off slow and gains skills until they’re able to skillfully navigate the most difficult levels. GBL applies this very concept while teaching a curriculum. Students work on a goal, taking actions and facing the consequences of their actions. That way, they actively understand and exercise the correct way of doing things. This acts as an active learning instead of passive learning.

Impact of GBL

The regulators and shipping welfares try to create a more environmentally friendly, safe, and secure maritime transportation sector. Despite their efforts, human error is still the principal cause of shipping accidents. A study suggests that human error is responsible for 80% to 90% of all shipping accidents. There have been instances when a little bit of negligence led to great casualties. GBL can help reduce the number of casualties because it is a powerful educational model.

Popular examples of GBL

Singapore’s International Logistics & Supply Chain Management (ILSCM) has designed a game called the Shipping Company Game. The game allows students to learn about shipper/cargo pre-requisites, and how to collaborate between different business functions in a shipping line, and to understand the business and operations processes and limitations. Besides allowing the students to apply their domain knowledge, such as freight, and fleet planning, sailing schedule to compete for business, the game also enhances the students’ analytical and critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and decision-making skills. The Maritime industry can benefit from such games in many ways. Games like VSTEP’s RescueSim allow emergency crews to virtually experience real-life situations. The game lets the crew assess a situation and come up with a response strategy. When they implement it, they can see the consequences of their responses. MYMIC’s NAUTIS is a game that provides a range of simulations for the maritime industry such as communications, radar, ship handling, GMDSS, and so on.

Game based learning

The idea behind using computer games for education is to blend learning activities in a game. It’s not just a model inspired by educators and researchers but is also a part of leading game designers’ description. As game designer Chris Crawford says, “The fundamental motivation for all game- playing is to learn”. The important aspect to consider is how to integrate, and not just add, games to the existing educational toolset. GBL can be better understood by considering the example of bridge simulators. In those games, a trainee needs to perform a set of navigational tasks. Now in that game, let a trainee achieve a certain level of competency in each game level before he can move to the next level. Record his or her score and the number of attempts they took to pass each level. When these records are posted on a global site where all trainees can view them, it allows trainees to compete with each other. The outcome is thus, much more helpful than sitting through lectures and theory.

Games are not simulations

Educational games are often confused with a simulated environment where a player can examine his knowledge and skills. In fact, simulation is a pretty different learning module than games and it is a commonly used tool in the maritime industry. Their similarities and differences are best captured by Coleman’s term simulation games. It describes how goals apply to the possible actions in the simulation. A strong investment of strong feelings is necessary for the game as the goals are tied to conflict. Even if the game doesn’t have specific conflicts and goals, most players will plan their goals, and use the simulation to achieve those goals. Moreover, in simulations, the level of the model has high priority. But a computer game will often sacrifice naturalism if it furthers the overall game experience. Computer games are not only mainly about simulating; rather they provide an interesting experience meeting specific goals. GBL is a promising and emerging technology, which is very beneficial for the educational needs of the maritime industry. It can support the acquisition of facts through drill and practice, and of process skills through simulation. The maritime industry can use it as a supplementary tool to teach active and critical learning.


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