Back in the middle of this year I got the chance to act as control in Paul Howarth and Ben Green’s hospital simulator game intrusted. See past blog report here. Fund had been secured to run the game again for a different group of healthcare professionals and again I got the chance to help deliver it.
The format of the game was to be slightly different this time. It was intended that all the players would be part of a single hospital; although the narrative was continued from the last game in that the participants were now running the old hospital post- merger, otherwise the basic premise and three levels of players was retained. I went over early with Paul to Manchester to help sort things out before the game and go through the changes that had been made to the game since last time. It was nice to get a better grasp on the mechanisms of the game as last time my control role wasn’t really focused on them.
The plenary Briefing.
After the attendees had arrived and the plenary briefing delivered we set up the room for the next day and retired to the bar. A pleasant couple of hours was spent with the control team drinking, chatting and playing a board game. In our case a run through of a the rather good Black Orchestrawhere you attempt to assassinate Hitler, we did with a briefcase bomb… There is a serious point to this, I’m of the opinion that gaming together, regardless of the game, can only improve a person’s and group’s skill level when acting as part of a control team.
The evening’s recreational game.
After breakfast at the hotel we started early with the game and watched the players try to organise the hospital. A failure on their part to stock take what staff cards they had available at the start meant that they had plenty in turn one but then struggled in the second and subsequent turns. There were insufficient resources at the scenario start to deal with everything perfectly, this was meant to engender a discussion from the bottom- up to the board level players to get more resources this didn’t really happen for a good few hours. As this time, I was supervising the admissions/ Intensive Care unit and surgical wards I saw that the players worked incredibly hard to process the patients through the hospital and to a degree I start to empathise with them. This became apparent when the board level players came into the main room to describe their latest social media campaign. I sensed a degree of annoyance go through some of the players that they had been working hard whilst the board had been coming up with new hashtags for a twitter campaign. It was very interesting to see that as in the last game I saw how hard that the board/ directorate were working and I know full well that social media presence and public perception is of utmost importance in today’s media saturated landscape so I would not want to do the board a disservice and suggest that they were having an easier time of it than those in the main room running the basic hospital functions. One of the points of contentions was a refusal to hire the extra nurse, of non- British nationality, that were needed to man the wards. The staffing crisis got so severe that the intensive care unit was not used for a couple of turns.
A pair of the wards staffed and with paitents.
Whilst the new mechanics are improved I think that a few player aids to speed up the learning of the game could be utilised in and subsequent run of the game. I’d suggest that the quicker that the players understand and are comfortable with the basic mechanics the sooner that they can be different problem and scenarios can be injected in the game to generate the inter- department and inter- hierarchy discussions that will provide the greatest learning experience for the attendees.
Discussions around anesthetist’s staffing level in the surgical theatres.
In the debrief there were some great comments by the attendees which showed that they got a lot from the game and again it was great to see gaming being used for something so beneficial.