Gamification of Strategic Thinking: Using a digital Board Game on Steam


  • Thorston Kodalle Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Germany



gamification, scythe, steam, design thinking, distributed wargaming, framework


This is the third article in a series of articles reflecting on implementing the Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Board Game "Scythe" in an educational setting. It reflects on the evolution of a Game-Based Learning (GBL) approach teaching fundamental management methods and training 21st Century Skills. The first iteration of Scythe as the board game platform to train and educate students in OODA-Loop and decision support techniques was planned as a three-day on-premise workshop in February 2020. The kick-off was in November 2019 and was followed by a long self-study preparation phase. It transformed into a fully distributed learning event on short notice due to the advent of COVID-19. The second iteration, from November 2020 to March 2021, was a four-month closely supervised distributed learning experience featuring SWOT-Analysis, Kanban-Board, Scrum and other agile management methods next to the OODA-Loop. These two iterations had one thing in common. The board game Scythe was used as an analogue board game, and a Slack Workspace was used to submit pictures of the physical board game to reflect on the current situation. In the second iteration, Steam licences for the digital version of Scythe (Digital Scythe) were provided to students as a decision support tool. From November 2021 to February 2022, the third iteration implemented Digital Scythe entirely. Therefore, the final tournament and highlight of the learning experience were also fully digital, with new challenges for facilitation. This complete digitalisation also provided unique learning opportunities, particularly concerning 21st-century skills. Overall, this new seminar prototype was a huge success, and the demand for this kind of learning experience looks pretty high. It emphasises virtualisation using the popular gaming platform Steam. This article also applies a framework for distributed wargaming.