SBIR Phase II: A Systematic Approach, Language and Platform for Building and Distributing Interactive Educational Games in Operations Management

Period of Performance: 09/15/2017 - 08/31/2019

$739K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Fathomd, Inc.
2704 Welborn St Unit H Array
Dallas, TX 75219
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase II project should increase the adoption of pedagogically validated educational games that facilitate retention and effective use of business concepts taught and relevant to managing organizations. Start-ups, for-profit and nonprofit companies all need managers who can make effective decisions in the face of complexity and uncertainty. It is of the utmost importance to society, therefore, that the next generation of business leaders is equipped with relevant frameworks and tools that supplement traditional teaching methods and enable effective use of knowledge on the job. Hence, this project has the potential to empower the U.S. workforce to be more productive and innovative, which will improve existing business outcomes and thus drive U.S. job and economic growth. Improved business operations will also lead to more profitable business in general and potentially larger tax revenues for the U.S. government. Eventually opening the GDL to third-party authors in the $18.6 billion global game-based learning market will accelerate game innovation and usage in other business and engineering disciplines at a lower cost, which will both enhance the effectiveness of the STEM workforce and encourage more economic activity in the game development market. This project is based on three innovations that differentiate this solution from others: (1) a scientific Game Research and Development (GR&D) process designs games containing pedagogical learning objectives; (2) a Game Design Language (GDL) accelerates implementation of game concepts as automatically validated, domain specific language while eliminating runtime errors; and (3) an innovative web Game Distribution Platform (GDP) minimizes the effort to setup and manage games in the classroom. Typical educational game development in languages such as JavaScript is time-consuming, involves professional software engineers and requires debugging of runtime errors, while usage of game technology in the class is disruptive to the flow of instruction. Such challenges are therefore prohibitive for non-professional programmers and game administrators such as professors. To mitigate the problem of runtime errors, this project employs methods of video game development, which typically use domain-specific languages based on non-Turing-complete models of computation to solve these issues. Games created with GDL will enable rapid new game development and have a guaranteed level of technical quality, allowing professors to focus on pedagogical relevance during instruction. The main technical hurdle is to tailor these methods to result in GDL capable of expressing the Operations Management (OM) games conceived during the scientific GR&D process and playable via the GDP that enables seamless class integration.