The SGS&C Special Emphasis category is open to entries that address a particular problem.  This year’s Special Emphasis is on games that either develop or hone an adaptive stance in adult learners, that is, to have the ability to make sound decisions when faced with less-than-perfect or evolving information.

Adaptive stance, (as defined in the Australian Defence Technical Report) is an individual’s ability to repeatedly try new or different strategies to solve problems, while considering feedback with the purpose of improving overall success. The adaptive stance model has been distilled as forming goals & objectives, scanning the environment, planning & deciding (reflecting), and then, acting or executing, while modifying one’s approach based on feedback.

Learners with an adaptive stance should be comfortable with discerning meaning from saturated information environments as well as being comfortable with ambiguity in ill-defined, information-lacking environments.  For example, a middle school teacher demonstrates an adaptive stance when her decision to change her teaching strategy based on feedback she gets from students results in successful outcomes. Her ability to discern the situation, realize a change was needed, and execute that change demonstrates an adaptive stance. Similarly, an Army Major demonstrates adaptive stance when she reacts to feedback indicating that her plan is not working and then makes necessary changes that result in improvement.

Serious games can be skills-practice or training environments for honing adaptive stance skills.  The Special Emphasis award criteria DOES NOT focus on the ability of the game/training environment to adapt to the learner.  A successful Adaptive Force Training Special Emphasis Award entry tries to promote skill development for adaptable thinking, assuming an effective Adaptive Stance.

Last year’s winner did a wonderful job of collecting decisions along the way and allowing for the cause and effect of cumulative choices to show the player’s standing within the other players of the game. Government in Action allows students to explore the real-world challenges and day-to-day experiences of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The goal is to maximize the value Political Capital while balancing the need to achieve re-election every 2 years.  Players must employ a combination of actions with interrelated effects to gain influence in order to advance an agenda.  The player must continually reassess the situation based on a series of measures to hone a strategy that will allow them to advance in the game.

This year we invite entrants to submit their solutions to the problem of honing players’ adaptive skills with games. Whether for middle and high school, university, defense or industry, your innovative solution is welcome!