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Gaming and Gamulation

Since the Center’s inception, we have been investing time and energy into developing how games and gamulations could be used to accelerate the development of leadership and strategic thinking. Since 2009, we have built two games/gamulations. The first project was based on a project that was funded by Alaska Airlines where we examined the transformation this organization went through over the last decade. This research study led to the development of our Wheels up Board game, which we have used in our classroom, and is also in use at Boeing with the international management programs.

Liberty Air

Our second gamulation was designed working in collaboration with a company called Recurrence Inc. in Bellevue, Washington. The game was built on ubiquitous HTML5 technology that is compatible with computers, tablets, and mobile devices. This gamulation is an avatar-based game where teams of 5 participants engage in game play, typically over 4-5 sessions, serving in the role of a top management team running a large and complex airline. These teams have to address both strategic challenges, e.g., a change in workforce contracts through to personal challenges confronted by each leader. The gamulation is being used by over 50 Universities around North America and beyond, and on anyone day, is played by over 1500 students!


Our third gamulation is actually a company that the Center acquired in 2016 that was co-founded by Martina Welke and Britta Jacobs. According to our historians, this is the first time in 150 years, that any unit at UW has acquired a company. The Zealyst company and game, was designed to help in the formation of teams, starting with large groups, e.g, 1,000, and then forming them into affinity groups based on the outcomes of a series of games.  For example, in the game, Great Minds Think Alike depicted below, players go through a series of questions that helps the game determine, which might be the best affinity group for members to join. Using the game, we can repeatedly switch out groups and in that way, help people to meet more rapidly other members of their organization. The game is currently under revision for launch in the Fall, 2017.

NSF Eager Grant

We have now been approved by the National Science Foundation for a $200,000 seed grant to develop a next generation gamulation for accelerating the development of entrepreneurial leaders.  This project will involve building a gamulation similar to Liberty Air above, in terms of the interface with participants serving in the role of a high-tech start-up enterprise. One of the unique aspects of this gamulation is that we will constantly introduce real data into the gamulation such as how much is being invested in startups in a region, workforce dynamics, employment rates, litigation, etc. This is part of the simulation component of our gamulation, where we introduce ‘real’ data to challenge participants playing the gamulation.