Incubator Reports

Gamification in Defense Acquisition Training and Education

December 2022

AUTHORS: Dr. Rob Handfield1, Lt Col Daniel J. Finkenstadt2

Full Report 1

Gamified learning (building games to promote learning of traditional material) presents a unique opportunity for enhancing education and training within the defense workforce.1 We provide an in-depth explanation of what gamification is and why it might be particularly useful for enhancing learning in nontraditional defense contexts, using defense acquisition as a test case. We present initial evidence from our empirical research to highlight the opportunities and challenges for advancing military education into the present age through gamified learning methods. Finally, we outline future directions for research in gamification for defense applications, bringing attention to the need for collaboration across the defense-focused entities exploring the potential for gaming in future defense education and training. 

Full Report 1A

There have been significant advances in gaming and simulation technology over the past few years. While topic and task specific game experiences have been developed, especially in the K-12 curriculum, a general methodology for designing and developing games for adult education is missing. For designing game experiences that can be systematically applied to the various aspects of acquisitions training, we have started developing a methodology that involves the design of a suite of games with different mechanics that provide affordances for learning specific types of content.  

In the sub report, we first describe some of the theoretical foundations of game design, player modeling, and analysis of existing games. We then present two prototype games, an escape room that incorporates puzzles from content from the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) manual related to protest risk and a city building tower-defense for contingency contracting interactive scenario generation. 

Appendix A: Game Training Matrix

Game mechanics vocabulary was refined to incorporate some aspects of acquisitions training that are missing from the general vocabulary of games. The final 15 terms identified are: Communication, Logistics, Problem Solving, Resource Management, Risk Management, Planning, Coordination, Trading, Budgeting, Teamwork, Cooperation, Collaboration, Memorization, and Information Gathering. With this more refined set of terms, 58 popular existing games were analyzed across several genres to identify the mechanics that these games were best at communicating through interaction. The detailed spreadsheet with the relevant analysis is presented in Appendix A: Game Training Matrix.