SESAR Exploratory Research project shows that serious games can support change in ATM

On 30 January, Exploratory Research Project, (WP-E) AeroGame held a final workshop to assess the project’s results. Hosted, at the NLR premises in Amsterdam, representatives of various stakeholders played a serious game that aims to support the ATM community in the evolution towards the ATM system of the future. The goal of the workshop was to evaluate if serious games can be a useful tool to support these change processes.

The project assembled a user group with representatives from relevant stakeholders, such as airports, ANSPs, low-fare and legacy airliners, and government. The group was regularly consulted to select a challenging topic for the serious game and to test-play the game during the final workshop. The introduction of 4D trajectories was selected as a first assessment of the usability of serious games in ATM.

How does the serious game work?

The game takes the form of a classic board game that is complemented by a digital scoreboard. Four stakeholder representatives (playing their respective roles) play the game that consists of several rounds in which the stakeholders jointly build an ATM system capable of facilitating 4D trajectories (4DT). In each round the players are confronted with a choice to either invest in technologies or to save resources for later. The goal for each player is to increase the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of their choice with a minimum use of resources. Cooperation with other players (e.g. joint investments) is essential to achieve the goals of the game. Social aspects, such as discussions between players about motives and making clear agreements, therefore play a large role in the game.

While playing the game, players learn about 4DT, its enabling technologies and necessary investments. The social aspect of the game also clarifies the motives and rationale of other stakeholders with respect to the introduction of 4DT. This latter aspect is not only important for the stakeholders, but also for the greater goal of the game to supportchange in ATM. For example, results of discussions between players, behaviour of players and the outcome of the game can be used to improve the roadmap for the (gradual) introduction of 4DT.

How has AeroGame been developed?

The AeroGame has been developed over the last two years, using an iterative approach to improve the game overtime. The framework of the game is based on Schell’s building blocks of game design and Kotter’s approach of organisation transformation. The underlying game mechanics can be adapted with little effort to support other ATM change processes such as the introduction of SWIM.

What feedback has the game received?

Players were extensively debriefed through questionnaires and interviews. Stakeholder representatives responded very positive to the game and its potential application as a tool to support change. Some reactions: “It is an innovative way of working together…”, “…it supports motivation…”, “… valuable as a tool to work together and to convince others…”, “AeroGame has great potential to get all stakeholders involved in the future development of ATM.”

Where can I find more information?

A detailed validation report is expected to appear in Q2 2015. For further information feel free to contact Dennis Nieuwenhuisen, +31 20 5113391 or

See more photos from the AeroGame validation workshop