Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Stephen R. Balzac
For Immediate Release
Does your organization want effective leaders?
On January 30th, 2009, Steve Balzac will present Long Ago and Far Away, a leadership and negotiation serious live roleplaying game at the New England Society of Applied Psychology. Serious games are intended to educate and entertain. Long Ago puts players into a fantasy scenario in which they must solve very real problems.
According to Balzac, "All businesses need to provide leadership to their members, motivate employees, and negotiate with individuals and organizations. The problem is practicing those skills in an environment that doesn't feel artificial. Serious gaming provides an engrossing and entertaining scenario. Players are able to get into the game and as a result deal with the problems that come up much as they would in real life. Whether a player gives up in frustration after encountering an obstacle or comes up with a creative out of the box solution, that tells you they'll likely do the same thing on the job. Conversely, when someone shines in the game, but is a mediocre performer on the job, that alerts employers to untapped potential."
In sports, teams practice their skills over and over to deal with every conceivable scenario. Businesses rarely have that luxury. Serious games enable businesses to practice and hone skills before the critical situation in which they are needed. Employees also have the opportunity to experiment and make mistakes in an environment in which there are no financial consequences to the business. Employees who need additional skill training can be identified before they fail on the job.
"Most roleplaying exercises used today are too narrowly focused, allowing people to optimize their behavior," says Balzac. "Unfortunately, such perfect scenarios rarely occur in real life. You have to provide enough depth to allow natural behaviors to emerge. Compared to serious games, most of the roleplaying exercises being used today are the equivalent of 'See Jane Run.'"
About Steve Balzac
Steve Balzac is a management consultant and veteran of the Silicon Valley startup world. He started designing serious live roleplaying games over 25 years ago, as an undergraduate at MIT. He has over two dozen major games to his credit, most recently including a Pandemic Flu Simulation for the US National Capitol Region. His games have ranged in length from two hours to two weeks, and in size from eight to over two hundred participants. They are noted for their richness of detail, depth of characterization, intricate plotting, and carefully-designed, easy-to-use mechanics. Players become immersed in the game scenario, acting and reacting in highly realistic ways, and building transferable skills in negotiation, communication, public speaking, leadership, teamwork, flexible planning, and crisis management. His articles have appeared in Metagame, The Journal of Interactive Drama, The IBM Systems Journal, The Lincoln Journal, Mass High Tech, and the Worcester Business Journal.
Steve is an adjunct professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology and president of 7 Steps Ahead, LLC, a consulting firm based in Stow, MA.
For further information contact:
Stephen R. Balzac