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professional training with time travel and in the skin of fictional characters

Whoduniter: professional training in time travel and in the role of fictional characters

The public prize for SpinUOC 2021, the annual entrepreneurship program of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), was sent this year to Whoduniter, a digital training and talent development service for companies based on games of live-action role and a detective story known as a thriller. The promoter of the project is Helena Mas, Associate Professor of Studies in Information and Communication Sciences at UOC, specialist in writing and interactive storytelling.

More explains that the word whodunit is the short, familiar way to ask in English “Who did it?” During the investigation of who committed a crime. In Spain there are companies that offer this type of game, but the entrepreneur claims that his project is the only one that uses games exclusively for the training of interpersonal skills.

Through the game, participants are invited to travel in the past and to do so with their colleagues. On this journey, everyone will become suspect in a murder and have to use their social skills to uncover the perpetrator and other mysteries. More explains that more than half of managers in organizations consider these skills to be the most important for professional development.

Develop the skills of the game

All companies need to train their workers in these social skills, so we offer more fun online training to achieve this, notes Mas. One of the games, for example, may offer users to develop leadership skills. From there, the proposal may be to travel to the Old West to investigate the death of the richest man in a town, discuss the purchase of land for the construction of a railroad. or discover a silver mine.

These are typical themes of the Western genre which, in this case, serve to form the skills that form the competence of leadership, explains Mas. So, if any of the users are to sell land to build the railroad, they will need to demonstrate persuasion, self-confidence, or strategic thinking. Users have a fictitious role at a certain point: the time travel of our games is very effective, especially in getting people out of their comfort zone and looking for creative solutions to the problems that arise, explains Mas.

Activities bring together people of different age groups, interests and confidence levels. So far, more than 200 people between the ages of 18 and 67 have already played. The project was born in Potsdam (Germany) two years ago as a socialization activity between foreigners and locals. A proposal to do an original Barcelona team building activity prompted Mas to join the two ideas and decide to offer these games online adapting them to the digital world.

We verify that with virtual games we not only reduce costs, but also that we can reach companies that have teams spread all over the world, explains Mas. The activity, lasting two and a half hours, is done through the Zoom or Microsoft Teams platforms, as they are the most used by customers and have rooms where participants can express themselves in small groups.

Whoduniter currently offers nine games with different themes and a few in German, English, Catalan and Spanish. In addition to Helena Mas, Xavier Agudo, specialist in immersive content for various digital media, and Hilmar Poganatz, journalist, team trainer and role-play designer, are also working on the project.

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