Gaming, traditionally the prerogative of the spotty youth, is coming of age. More than 30 universities and business schools have so far signed up with IBM to incorporate the computer giant’s Innov8 “serious game” into their programme plans, so giving their students access to gaming technology to improve their business and information technology skills.

Innov8 is available free of charge to thousands of universities around the world. Included in those who have already adopted the technology for use are Harvard Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua school in the US, and Manchester Business School and SDA Bocconi in Europe.

The game, which is based on commercial gaming technologies, enables players to visualise how technology and related business strategies affect a company’s performance by identifying bottlenecks, exploring ’what if’ scenarios and so on.

“It’s an ideal learning tool for students, for whom gaming is second nature, to tackle real world business issues in a virtual environment,” says Linda Macaulay, professor of system design at Manchester Business School. “By working with IBM in this way give we will be able to give students a head start to compete successfully in business.”

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