Branched Scenarios: choose-your-own learning path
FLIGBY is a scenario-based learning program —also known as problem-based learning or whole task learning—with a highly interactive course design that puts the learner as a problem solver responding to realistic workplace problems or situations. The leadership simulation’s lessons are built around progressively complex workplace assignments or positions. Scenario-based online learning is a proven method to build expertise in unsafe or infrequent tasks in the workplace or to build critical thinking skills.
“…the next generation of learners, roughly thirty and younger, have grown up playing computer games. These once and future learners have learned how to learn through computer interactions. They expect to be engaged on multiple levels simultaneously, in a fast-feedback, graphical, high stimulation, extremely immersive, user-centric environment.” – Clark Aldrich
What Scenario-based learning is about
Scenario-based learning combines the magical appeal and relevance of stories with the realism of hands-on training within a virtual environment. Virtual scenarios let learners gather professional expertise and experience within a much shorter duration than they would have obtained from working at their actual jobs. Moreover, scenario-based learning allows them to learn through a trial-and-error process as effective as getting on-job training without facing the consequences or bearing the costs of a wrong decision.
A narrative is an essential part of the way we interact with and make sense of the world. Interactive narrative systems tell stories in a virtual world where the user is an interactive participant. Since the user’s behaviors in the virtual world can affect how a storyline unfolds, interactive narrative systems often use a branching story structure where non-interactive story presentations are interleaved with user decision points.
FLIGBY’s scenario-based approach is a complex structure of branching stories: players make multiple-choice decisions and an ongoing sequence of events. It means that FLIGBY offers the player a choice about which direction a given segment may proceed by offering multiple parallel paths. Story branching occurs when the players’ choices determine which levels, objectives, and other decisions they will face later in the game and which will be lost. FLIGBY offers multiple endings, depending on how the player performs at critical events within the simulation.
FLIGBY takes this approach further and, with its “game restart function,” encourages players to experience all the endings to understand the game’s overarching narrative fully. For example, various endings might give differing perspectives, with the plot elements that may not make sense in one ending making sense in another ending; by viewing these differing perspectives, the player thus gains a better understanding of the simulation’s overarching narrative.
The Strengths of branching path stories
- Branching path stories have multiple decision points (number of choices of varying importance) throughout the story, allowing the player to make a series of decisions as he progresses through the game;
- Let the player explore many possible progressions and outcomes of the story. Some decisions may have little to no effect on the main plot, while others can cause it to branch off in a different direction entirely;
- Offers the player a chance to experience the story from multiple angles and perspectives;
- The best synthesis of traditional and player-driven storytelling.
FLIGBY uses a branching narrative in which there are many points in the story where some action or decision the user makes alters how a narrative unfolds or ends. Branching narratives are typically represented as directed graphs in which each node represents a linear, scripted scene followed by a decision point.
The degree of engagement by a user within an interactive narrative lies, to a great extent, with the user’s perceived degree of control over their character as they operate within the environment. The greater the user’s sense of control over their avatar, the greater their sense of presence will be – the sense that they are a part of the story world and free to pursue their goals and desires. The producers of FLIGBY found it essential that the players identify with the scenario and the challenges immediately at the start of the scenario. They made the scenarios as accurate as possible by using big-budget videos with actors performing real-life situations. The video makes it possible to use specific emotions as a response to decisions made by a player.