SCM Game Lab

University of Parma – Dept. of Engineering and Architecture

In this virtual lab, supply chain management can be simulated as a multiplayer serious game.


Serious Games (SG) are a step beyond (gamified) eLearning: SGs are a unique approach to training that allow learners to make choices, and ultimately asks them to solve problems towards a certain goal. In this way, learners may attempt different approaches and discover by themselves the consequences of choosing one route instead of another. This project involves the design and the development of a serious game in the field of operations management, mainly for university students (bachelor, master, doctoral). There are many serious games on the market, in the fields of operation management and supply chain management.

However, all the serious games that we have known or used in the past present a number of limitations that usually bore gamers after some time in the game, and make the game not very useful to the students/practitioners, such as:

  • gamers mostly play against the computer, so the choices of each individual gamer do not affect, and are not affected by, choices of other gamers;
  • gamers mostly play alone, and this is never the situation in real companies, where several people should cooperate towards the same goals (more or less);
  • the game scenario is always the same (if a gamer plays several times in the same game, the progression of the game is always the same);
  • gamers have all the time they want to complete the game, i.e. time is not a decision variable;
  • gamers compete at a strategic level of decisions, and not at an operative level.

Lab Details

University of Parma – Dept. of Engineering and Architecture

The lab will be virtual, i.e. remote experimenter and virtual experiment

  • None, at present

Bachelor Students – teaching purposes (Production Management)

Master Students – teaching purposes (Supply Chain Management)

Company staff – demos and technological transfer

Game managers – research purposes + lab management and re-layout

To be defined

We aim at studying, designing and realising a new serious game, characterised by an approach that is (i) collaborative, (ii) competitive and (iii) dealing with operative decisions in quasi-real-time. By using game mechanics such as limited turns, finite resources, and merit-based progression, it is possible to create engaging experiences that capture learners’ attention. Below some details:

  • Collaborative: each company must be “controlled” by more than one player, ideally one for each major business function (for example, purchasing, logistics, operations, sales and marketing, human resources, finance and cost control and so on- max 5 gamers per firm). Gamers virtually will cover the role of chief of a specific function and the decision-making process will be collaborative (for example the manufacturing department schedules a production plan; this plan should be realised if and only if the purchase department bought the right material with an on time delivery etc.).
  • Competitive: in a virtual environment, a closed number of competitors (i.e. the different companies) competes to gain market shares and to hold them. The choices made by each individual competitor influence the market, its evolution, the demand for products, customer loyalty, and so on.
  • Each gamer plays in “real time”, i.e. the time of the day influences the feasibility of decisions. Starting a two hours production batch at 5 p.m. will mean to make extra-times up to 7 p.m. (at least).



"Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought"
Marco Scaffardi
Engineering master student