Wednesday, January 4

SimWord of the Day: Situational Awareness

Experts in various areas see the world differently.
  • When I was leading hiking trips up in Maine, I used to constantly be on the look out for roots, broken glass, steep hills, and other environmental hazards.
  • I spent the one week when I was targeted for assassination constantly looking for both threats (people moving quickly, vans approaching me) and also escape routes (first story windows, back streets). I would not walk into a room with only one door, for example. (Oh, this was just a college game, but it taught me some lessons I never forgot.)
  • When doing re-engineering, I look for the relationships between people: who are the factions, and how strong are they.

One of the best training opportunities of a simulation is to force people to develop a situational awareness, to see the world differently. This is often done at the interface level.

Here is a screen shot from Tropico, that uses pedagogical highlighting (in green) to show where low-income tourists would find desirable. Thinking of the island in this way is critical to attracting a good tourist trade. The game designers also could have used nothing but simulation elements, having tourists themselves go to the best spots.

There are also impaired situational awareness opportunities. One simulation from Second Life (I think) captures what it is to have some mental ailments, with other characters yeling at them and scary images appearing on the walls. Some driving simulations capture the sensation of being drunk, showing the reduced reaction time.

Seeing the world as experts do, and then either through pedagogical and/or simulation elements capturing and transfering that, is one of the greatest opportunities for simulations.

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