DAU’s Gaming Tsaritsa: Dr. Alicia Sanchez

Alicia Sanchez has a very positive, exciting personality. Clearly, this is a woman is love with what she does: government video games. She project manages games and identifies potential games to bring into production. She’s the “executive producer” for the games.

Did I mention she has a PhD in Gaming? That’s pretty cool.

She was hired at DAU about 3 years ago to specifically develop oversee game creation. Now she thinks DAU has reached a critical mass to really unleash gaming’s potential for the acquisition workforce. There are enough games to make them mainstream.

Alicia often gives conference talks. This year’s theme is “I’m Not a Gamer”, which is how people often try to categorize themselves. Once people self-categorize themselves, it’s hard to break that mentality. She gets people to accept their inner gamer by discussing the differences between hardcore games for Xbox and casual games on Wii and free PC games. Often she finds people open up once they find out and try the differences. This is especially important because she has 2 different gaming audiences — young and old. The young grew up with Nintendo, but the old didn’t. Still, she has had success in bridging the age gap with casual games, which have a lot of acceptance among 40-50 year old men and women. Look at the success of Farmville — I virtually guarantee you’ve heard older acquisition folks mention it at work. This means casual games are an opportunity to impact our workforce.

But how good are casual games? Well, they aren’t for “teaching you something”. Rather, they help people have experiences they may otherwise not have. They help people practice their skills.

Right now, there are 3 levels of games at DAU:

  1. Actual in course implementation that is perfectly aligned with course objectives
  2. Practice and application games following a CLM course
  3. Core competencies games on a DAU casual gaming site — games almost for “fun”, things that help people similar to kongregate.com.

On the third category of games — DAU is developing lots of casual games. I also got to play some of the ones in development. Some of these games are called Procurement Fraud and Homeward Bound. They’re designed to reinforce what we have already learned. 13 games should be launched in about one month.

There is always something new — so many courses and so much content that a new game that there are always new games in demand for each course. That means a lot more games are coming down the pipe.

On an even grander scale, games are driving home the consequences of screwing up at work — it’s easy to miss who our end customer is when we’re in a low-risk environment like an office. Our customers could die if we screw up. These games remind and reinforce the consequences of wrong actions.

There’s a lot of potential here, so I’m looking forward to what’s coming.

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Steven Ollek

This sounds incredible! After taking my fair share of DAU classes the past five years, I can tell you that the concepts taught go in one ear and out the other more times than not. Having a game reinforce concepts…why didn’t I think of this!!?? Can’t wait to see more on this for all career fields at DAU! Just curious how they’ll teach engineering to engineers via a game…

Avatar photo Mike Lambert

Nice job, Sterling – great write-up. The gaming portal (which you got a glimpse of a couple months ago) is almost ready to go live!

Jaime Gracia

Interesting. Perhaps an acquisition and contracting game can be developed to help shape acquisition outcomes by developing scenario and knowledge based approaches to acquisition management for the various courses.