A "serious game" is a game (usually a simulation) designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Games like the beer game or the fresh connection can be considered serious games serving an educational purpose.

Edited after comments

My question is twofold:

  1. I am interested in using games in my logistics and supply chain management classes. Are there other serious games (educational games in general) that use OR principles, methods and tools (perhaps beyond simulation)?
  2. I am also interested in the mechanics of such games. My question is NOT how to use games to teach OR, but how to use OR to create games about other subjects, typically in the Operation Management, Management Science, Supply chain and logistics areas.


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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking what other games exist, or how to create such games? $\endgroup$ – LarrySnyder610 Jul 8 '19 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @LarrySnyder610: thanks for the comment, good point. I am firstly interested in using such games, so already existing games are ok (better if free). However, also hints and suggestions about how to create them would be interesting (regardless of the implementation details, I am concerned about the idea of the game). Trivial example: to teach warehouse picking, you can use shortest path, then move to the TSP, and finally the VRP. How to combine them in a game is a completely different thing :-) $\endgroup$ – Libra Jul 8 '19 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ I am reminded of what the late Prof. Sam Karlin said when the topic of game theory came up. "Game Theory. You have two nonnegative sigma-finite measures ..." He was pretty damn serious. $\endgroup$ – Mark L. Stone Jul 8 '19 at 21:55

This link, provide 3 different logistic related games, TopShoe, JIT Flight and MyDC.

  • TopShoe: introduces the players to the logistical processes and the tactical decisions that must be made.

  • JIT Flight: is a multi-round bussiness game in which students optimize the process according to the JIT philosophy (minimum stocks, zero defects, minimum product outages, responsible employees without stress).

  • MyDC: in MyDC distribution center students will become acquainted with the various departments and their operational processes. (order management - inventory management - location management - order picking - shipping - storage - goods receipt - purchase).

SCM GLOBE, provide a supply chain management, multi-player competition, educational game that can be used in a class.

Considering their publications and their collaboration in projects by University of Bremen, BIBA (Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH) is definitely one of the gaming labs that should be considered when a teacher wants to use serious games for educational purpose.


One simple game for educational purposes that doesn't use simulation is the "Slick Oil Distribution Game".

Disclaimer: I work at Opex Analytics!

  • $\begingroup$ Nice and neat, indeed! $\endgroup$ – Libra Jul 8 '19 at 22:07

The company GameLab offers these types of games. There you will find a few more "serious games".

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. These games are mainly simulation based if I am not wrong. $\endgroup$ – Libra Jul 8 '19 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Libra they are simulation based in the sense that simulation is used to evaluate the performance of a “solution.” But you could apply OR principles to come up wit such a solution. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Duque Jul 8 '19 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ I agree, it’s a little confusing what you mean by “simulation” in the question. Some games are themselves simulations but are illustrating OR concepts that have nothing to do with simulation. The beer game is an example; it is a simulation but the OR concepts it teaches are from SCM/inventory theory. $\endgroup$ – LarrySnyder610 Jul 8 '19 at 22:23

You could set your class the challenge of manually planning a set of delivery routes and seeing if they can find better routes (less vehicles used, less travel distance/time) than an optimisation algorithm can do?

We have an open source/free VRP solver desktop app called ODL Studio that would let you do this - see tutorial video here.

We also have a p-median site location solver in ODL Studio. Again you could set your class the task of beating the solver using this. Some students at this university did something similar using ODL Studio.


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