Testing Changes in the Railway System Through Gaming Simulation: How Different Types of Innovations Affect Operators’ Mental Models
Authors: Julia C. Loa, Jop van den Hoogena, Sebastiaan A. Meijerb
Abstract: Simulation allows innovation managers to manipulate otherwise unchangeable parameters of a railway system and by doing so enable them search for more radical innovative solutions. To validly simulate a sociotechnical system the simulation needs to do justice to both the technical and social complexities. Gaming simulation provides such an opportunity by incorporating real human elements of the system into the simulation run. However, manipulating system elements might have validity-threatening effects on game player’s mental models as we assume that real life mental models build up over long periods of interacting with an relatively inert system. This paper studied the relation between the concepts of innovation and mental models by showing the interplay between the different dimensions of both innovation and mental models. We measured the impact of the change(s) on mental models by looking qualitatively at proxies such as erroneous decisions, ambiguity and questions about the introduced change and discussion between players, and applied this to three gaming simulations we ran at ProRail, the organization responsible for managing the Dutch network and one gaming simulation at Network Rail, the British railway infrastructure organization. Our paper ends with a crude proposition: testing innovations that focus on procedures are more cumbersome, especially when not accompanied with an innovation that needs an update of declarative knowledge such as infrastructural changes.
Keywords: Gaming Simulation; Innovation; Mental models; Railway traffic and network control
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