IBM has designed a new video game to help university students and young professionals develop a combination of business and IT skills.
The Innov8 interactive 3D video game is designed to help bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders.
Over 2,000 universities around the world can download the game from IBM's website and begin using it in their classrooms at no charge. More than 30 colleges and universities have already incorporated the game into their programme plans.
"The best kept secret in the world of computer and video games is the rise of a movement, now in the thousands, of gamers, universities and corporations dedicated to applying games to serious challenges such as education, training, medical treatment or better government," said David Rejeski, director of the Serious Games Initiative.
This type of simulation, often referred to as 'serious gaming', has the look and feel of a game but corresponds to business activities, such as improving operational processes.
It has emerged as an increasingly successful method to train the networked generation to develop new skills, in the same way as airline pilots initially learn using flight simulators.
Manchester Business School (MBS) is one of the first organisations in the world, and the first university in the UK, to use the game.
"The games reflect our commitment to breaking down the barriers between business theory and practice," said Linda Macaulay, a professor at MBS.
"It is an ideal learning tool for students, for whom gaming is second nature, to tackle real-world business issues in a virtual environment.
"By working with IBM in this way we will be able to give students a headstart to compete successfully in business."
Video game marketing consultants The Apply Group said that between 100 and 135 Global Fortune 500 companies will have adopted gaming for learning by 2012, with the US, UK and Germany leading the way.
"IBM views serious gaming as a new and exciting way to develop the skills that are required as business and IT become more closely aligned," said Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategy, channels and marketing at IBM.
"Innov8 is designed to address this specific skills shortage while also helping universities realise the benefits of using serious games as a powerful tool for teaching today's students."
The release of Innov8 follows similar research by IBM pointing out the benefits of online video games in helping to groom future business leaders.
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