In this paper, we investigate the use of serious gaming as a research tool for design and systems engineering research. Design and systems engineering research produces theories and methods aimed at bettering the engineering process and improving the quality of end products. However, the engineering process is largely human-driven and thus the way in which theories and methods are implemented and used depends greatly on the human element. Serious gaming provides a fully controllable environment in which to test and validate theories and methods against human behavior. To evaluate the viability of serious gaming as a research tool, we construct a game to study the sunk cost effect in the context of a manned Mars mission, and compare game results with results from a survey centered on the scenario. We observe a difference in results between the game and survey; those in the game fall victim to the sunk cost effect despite treatment whereas those in the survey do not fall for the sunk cost effect in a control treatment. We hypothesize that this may be caused by a preference for continued gameplay as opposed to the objectives in the narrative. Therefore, we conclude that gaming, at least in our case, induces behavior that may not be representative of real-world engineer behavior and must be mitigated.

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