Like last year, I devoted to what hopes to be one out of infinity units of my life on playing the lamest computer-simulated business game ever. Well, you can say this is just a dumb rant on going to lose in the game (the game is ending in about 1.5 hours and my team is still far behind), but I’ll surface extremely valid points that will demonstrate how the game cannot reflect anyone’s business ability. More importantly, the entire spirit of business is lost as we look at the varying commitments of players to the game. Our team is one of the slackiest and un-serious so that’s perhaps why we have such problem. In any case, I still have the urge to flame the organizers.
The idea of using computer simulation for business is a great idea – we simulate economic models, theoretical physics model and environmental models and they are all helpful when they allow us to see things in the real world. The problem with any simulation, is then that they are far-fetched from anything that’s real – then it cease to be a simulation but simply an imagination. The whole idea of attempting to predict the real world is the fundamental basis for having simulations in the first place. A business simulation, is thus highly flawed in a few aspects: (1) Uncertainty, (2) Timing and (3) Strategic.
A business simulation is unable to bring in uncertainty into the game properly. It is 2-dimensional but no elements from the 3rd dimension are entering this plane. Typical things like ill rumours, reputation index, strategic moves and tactics involving the temporal dimension is not allowed, reducing uncertainty only to mere fluctuation in prices that can be predicted quite precisely based on understanding of all rival teams (and in our case, the understanding of their level of devotion and amount of temporal devotion available). Of course, I can easily explain where I failed at – time; I didn’t have time sitting by the computer, hecking my tutorials and lectures, pretending to go to the toilet (but end up in the computer lab adjusting parameters), or even attempting to plot a demand curve by adjusting prices and looking at the consumer index that is given by the system.
The second point, with regards to timing in business, the simulation is such that things get problematic when transactions peak. The sounds more like some speculative stock market than a business arena. Worst, the timing is serious distorted by time lags. The movements in the demand market lags behind the dynamics of the input market, making it unrealistic for any players who does anything at all between each hours. To make the explanation clearer, I shall describe the game: you face a dynamic price system with regards to inputs where raw material prices fluctuates based on the demand for them but your demand is not so quick-changing, you only know whether your products are sold at hourly intervals. The general strategy: Rush to the computer at the exact hour when your products are bought, stock up raw materials to maintain supply before others does (so that you enjoy the assumed lowest prices) and then adjust any parameters as desired, and then get back to your life. Very realistic huh?
Finally, with regards to strategies. The simulation reduced your strategy options drastically compared to the real world but that’s fine; problem is parameters such as advertising should not be allowed because it sends out the wrong information that the more money you put into advertising, the more you can differentiate your demand. Simple economics and perhaps some common sense would suffice to tell you that’s not true at all. The game is strategically flawed in the sense that there are fixed strategy that works, and although there’s a threshold for the number of players who are allowed to play the strategy before it collapses, the way the demand manifest is such that all players faces similar market conditions and thus strategies to be played out are expected to be similar – leading to faster collapse of workable strategy (assuming they are worked out quickly by players). The information asymmetry in the market is not well-simulated (all players are given the same market report, meaning that players do not attempt to gain more information if they are willing to buy it) as well, further reducing the strategical realism.
Well, let’s just forget about it anyway. It’s time to get a life, geeks out there still fiddling with your company parameters!