Evaluating the benefits of collaboration in simulation games: the case of health care

JMIR Serious Games. 2014 Jan 28;2(1):e1. doi: 10.2196/games.3178.


Background: Organizations have used simulation games for health promotion and communication. To evaluate how simulation games can foster collaboration among stakeholders, this paper develops two social network measures.

Objective: The paper aims to initiate two specific measures that facilitate organizations and researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of Web-based simulation games in fostering collaboration.

Methods: The two measures are: (1) network density and (2) network diversity. They measure the level of connectedness and communication evenness within social networks. To illustrate how these measures may be used, a hypothetical game about health policy is outlined.

Results: Web-based games can serve as an effective platform to engage stakeholders because interaction among them is quite convenient. Yet, systematic evaluation and planning are necessary to realize the benefits of these games. The paper suggests directions for testing how the social network dimension of Web-based games can augment individual-level benefits that stakeholders can obtain from playing simulation games.

Conclusions: While this paper focuses on measuring the structural properties of social networks in Web-based games, further research should focus more attention on the appropriateness of game contents. In addition, empirical research should cover different geographical areas, such as East Asian countries where video games are very popular.

Keywords: health policy; simulation games; social networks.