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Games Technology for Design Validation of a Health Care System

FEATURED PAPER

Using Games Technology for the Concept and Design Validation of a Local Health Care System in Cameroon

By Joseph Kossmann and Mario Kossmann

Bristol, United Kingdom


Abstract

All complex projects are potentially full of challenges; yet charitable, i.e. not for profit, international development projects often have increased burdens in terms of the geographical distance between the various stakeholders of the project; cultural, national and legal boundaries including multiple languages; uncertainty regarding the available budget and resources throughout the project life cycle, including the availability of volunteers; as well as lack of the usual infrastructure in terms of electricity, roads or telecommunications if the project is at least partially carried out in developing countries. This paper looks at the use of Games Technology (GT), including modelling and simulation methods and tools, in order to enhance and shorten technical project activities such as concept development and validation, design development and validation, as well as awareness and fundraising activities that are needed to secure the necessary project funding. Using the example of the ‘Mahola’ project, which is concerned with the development of a local health care system in a deprived area of Cameroon, it is shown how GT was effectively and efficiently used to support the concept and design phases of the project.

Introduction

All complex projects are potentially full of challenges. However, there are arguably some typical challenges that are particularly characteristic of charitable (not for profit), international development projects. These challenges stem from multiple factors that influence the successful outcome of such projects. Some of the key factors are the geographical distance between the various stakeholders of the project; cultural, national and legal boundaries including multiple languages; uncertainty regarding the available budget and resources throughout the project life cycle; as well as lack of the usual infrastructure in terms of electricity, roads or telecommunications if the project is also carried out in developing countries.

As a result, communications may become more difficult and prone to misunderstandings; the project schedule and/or the actual scope of the project tend to be relatively volatile to accommodate for the changes in the available budget and especially resources, i.e. volunteers; and the effective handover of the project outcomes to the beneficiaries of these outcomes may be difficult. In short, such projects will frequently have to cope with the fact that everything takes longer and is more difficult; and the fact that the resources working on the project are usually volunteers and will only have limited time to work on the project.

One way to tackle these challenges within the usual constraints of such projects is to optimize the project activities so that only those activities that are really necessary to achieve the successful completion of the project will be carried out by the project team members, while cutting out any waste in terms of non-value added work. In other words, this can be achieved by carefully simplifying all project activities and the related documentation to the necessary minimum, while continuously monitoring the associated risks.

This paper looks at the use of Games Technology (GT), in particular state-of-the-art modelling and simulation methods and tools, in order to enhance and shorten technical project activities such as concept development and validation, design development and validation, as well as awareness and fundraising activities that are needed to secure the necessary project funding.

Games Technology, also known as game studies or ludology, primarily focuses on the technical processes of creating engaging multimedia entertainment, from anything as small as smartphone apps to anything as large as massive computer experiences. It is a relatively young field in its current state, only getting actual academic attention at the turn of the millennium, but one publication really pushed the study of games into the forefront of academia and that was ‘Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals’ written by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (2004) [1]. This book outlines not which specific tools to use to make the next greatest hit, but rather discusses the socio-political and human statements games and their creators have, as well as how they affect them and their players, solidifying the validity of the study as a whole. As can be gleamed from what has been mentioned, games technology has ties to several other disciplines and studies, such as sociology and psychology.

In the present day the teaching of games technology is often accompanied by a myriad of tools, most of them software. 3DS-Max [2], for example, is a commercial 3D graphics programme developed by Autodesk Inc. and is designed for making models of objects, individuals and anything else, as well as animating them. It has been used in video games and movies, as well as for conceptualisation in general. An alternative tool for this purpose is ‘blender’ [3] by the Blender Foundation. Unlike 3DS-Max, blender is an open source tool that can be used free of charge, it is less complex and therefore very popular amongst amateurs.

Once a model is made, be it a building or a car, it can imported into any number of game physics engines, such as the Unity engine [4], created by Unity Technologies, in order to be placed into a scene, where it can be interacted with by the player, or it can be the player itself, or it may just populate the in-game world that was created. Other tools exist in the market, each having their pros and cons of course.

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About the Authors

160919-joseph-kossmann
Joseph Kossmann

Bristol, United Kingdom

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Joseph Kossmann
is pursuing his academic studies of Games Technology at the University of the West of England, as part of the faculty of ‘Creative Technologies’. Having lived in France, Germany and the UK, his academic interests lie amongst other topics in the application of Games Technology aspects to Project Management and Systems Engineering; in particular to the stages of requirements elicitation as well as early concept and design development and validation. He has gained experience in software programming, in particular in C, C++ and Python; as well as digital modelling and simulation with different commercial tools such as blender, 3DS-MAX and Unity. Since 2013, Joseph has been responsible for the Modelling & Simulation Support of the ‘Mahola’ (Aid) project, which is concerned with the development of a local health care system in a deprived area of Cameroon. Joseph Kossmann can be contacted at [email protected]

 

 

160919-mario-kossmann
Dr. Mario Kossmann

Bristol, United Kingdom

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Dr. Mario Kossmann
(ESEP) is an experienced Systems Engineer and Capability Integrator for Airbus, having previously worked for Blohm & Voss as Program Manager, Systems Engineer, Technical Manager and Consultant in Services Marketing. He has served as a naval officer with the German and French navies, and was awarded an MEng in Aerospace Technology from the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich (Germany), an MBA from the University of Warwick (UK) and a Ph.D. in Requirements Engineering from the University of the West of England. He is the author of the books Delivering Excellent Service Quality in Aviation (Ashgate 2006) and Requirements Management – How to ensure that you achieve what you need from your projects (Gower 2013), as well as numerous research publications in the fields of Systems Engineering, Software Engineering and Project Management. Mario is also a certified Project Manager and Expert Systems Engineering Professional. Mario has been involved in the ‘Mahola’ project as Project Leader and Systems Engineer from the start of the project in December 2012.  Mario Kossmann can be contacted at [email protected]