The origins of gaming can be traced back to the early 19th Century when the use of maps led to the birth of the rigid War Game (Kriegspiel). These were partly used for educational purposes (e.g. to improve military officers skills) and partly for research (e.g. to study military strategy in a variety of settings). From these early beginnings, a great number of different uses for games have arisen, and teaching and research applications have diverged. The question of how and why games are currently used as the basis for a growing amount of organisational research will be addressed in my second article. At the moment, the most popular and well‐known types of games are business games based on a particular company or sector of industry, and used for educational purposes. As such, they offer a number of unique advantages over other educational devices such as case studies, lectures, behavioural and other exercises. I believe, however, that the full educational potential of games has not been fully realised for a number of reasons. Perhaps the word “game” itself gives the impression of time‐wasting amusement for its own sake. Also, in common with many new developments, it took time for the full implications and requirements of games to be realised, and some early experiences were unsuccessful. In fact, there is still some disagreement on the merits of games relative to other learning methods. I now describe these potential advantages and how they may be realised, beginning with the key question of game reality.
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