DSS News is a free biweekly newsletter from DSSResources.COM 
about computerized Decision Support Systems.


                        DSS News
                  D. J. Power, Editor
           November 6, 2005 -- Vol. 6, No. 24

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* Ask Dan! What can DSS designers learn from video games?
* DSS Conferences 
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases 


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Ask Dan!

What can DSS designers learn from video games?

By Dan Power

Today, decision support systems use mature user interface technologies.
Dashboards are not "new"; the smiley faces and sliders for user input
are familiar; adding 3-D charts is not necessarily improved data

In a number of Ask Dan! columns, I have examined user interface
topics and simulation. This column generalizes on some of those topics, 
but it also advocates more design research. I'm blessed to have three
sons who all play video games. This past summer, my youngest son Greg
brought MVP Baseball 2005 by Electronic Arts to my attention. He was
excited by the new "owner mode" in the game. Well I bought the game
for him and he has been testing the product for
What have we learned?

MVP Baseball 2005 by Electronic Arts is a game rated "E" for
Everyone. The game has the traditional mode where you control players
for batting, fielding and pitching. In the owner mode, however, a
gamer creates a team and stadium, sets ticket prices, drafts players,
makes trades and manages the team.

Greg has played more than 50 hours of MVP Baseball and demonstrated
the game for me twice. Greg especially likes the game because he
feels "more in control" of the results. To begin the simulation, a gamer
enters the owner mode and selects a team name and then sets
parameters like the budget and the difficulty. The gamer then proceeds to
the draft and to creating a stadium, setting promotions, ticket prices,
and buying concessions. Once the simulation is defined, the game
player manages the team for up to 30 years. A simple Executive
Information System (EIS) provides decision support as the
gamer/manager makes trades, expands the stadium and expands ball park
attractions. The first key results factor monitored is Team Chemistry.
The game monitors turnover among team members and on field success to
calculate a measure of team morale. The next key result is Fan
Happiness. In the game, ticket prices, attractions and performance of
the team impact this factor. The EIS summarizes Team skills ratings,
has an information window and has financial data in an Owner's
box. Overall the performance monitoring is easy to understand.

Video games continue to become more complex and more realistic. The
images that gamers see and manipulate create a realistic, virtual
world. My son is really absorbed in the role of owning and managing a
baseball team. I'm not going to debate whether those 50 hours were a
good use of his time, but I know he has learned some lessons about
managing a business. Some games are more than entertainment.

In November of 2001, Microsoft released the Xbox, which is the game
console my children use. Xbox 360 is set for release on November 22,
2005 and it will create a platform for high-definition video
gaming. The images will become even more graphic and realistic. My
guess is that the game scenarios, player roles and simulations will
also become more powerful. DSS designers and builders can buy a new
gaming platform.

What can we learn from video games that is relevant to building DSS?

The designers of DSS development environments and the developers of
DSS tools need to work to make user interfaces more intuitive and
easier to manipulate and control. Games are controlled and manipulated
using a handheld device called a controller. The controller is clumsy
for text entry, but it is easy to sit back and use the buttons and
joysticks to interact with the on screen images.

Simulation games "try to accurately depict real world situations,
physics, and events." We have had computerized business simulations
for 30 years, but they have been primarily used for training and
entertainment rather than for decision support and planning. "The
Sims" created a new reality simulation that may create new more
powerful Visual simulation tools for managers and decision makers, but
the progress seems agonizingly slow. Today, managers, Information
Systems faculty and students, and software developers need to spend
more time using racing simulators, flight simulators, and 'Sim' type

Cyber Reality. Decision and planning support can imitate the reality
of organization and business operating and strategic scenarios and
situations. The software can be engrossing and absorbing.

Navigation. CEOs and senior managers can use input devices similar to
game controllers. Planning should occur in a large display screen
virtual environment and not behind a 17" inch monitor using a

Easy to Learn. Business simulations can and should be easy to
customize and learn to use. Senior managers should be able to "control
the whole team and not just single actors". Managers should be able
to deploy sales forces, add shifts at production facilities, and
visualize new products and "test" them.

Graphic and visuals. A staff person or two should be able to use a
development tool to visually model the entire business including
plants, offices and staff. The cyber reality can and should imitate

Design Science. We need more DSS design experimentation. The
computational resources for building DSS are constantly improving and
becoming more powerful. We need to continually search for new "cool"
features to add to DSS products. Academic researchers need more
financial support from decision support software vendors to work on
novel interfaces, capabilities and "cool" stuff. These low risk
investments can move us to the next level and help some junior faculty
get tenure in the process.

Madden NFL 2004 took the top honor at Video Game Awards for its
innovative owner mode that has now been included in other
games. During the Penn State-Wisconsin football game, Saturday,
November 6, 2005, an ABC sideline commentator noted that Penn State
Coach Joe Paterno didn't use computers, but that he had used a video
game, Madden NFL, to demonstrate the plan for the game. On the Web one
can download player characteristics for a number of College teams to
use with Madden NFL. If a 78 year old football coach can adopt a new
technology to assist in training, planning and envisioning the future,
then so can managers and executives in other industries.

So what are the "must have" video games for current and future DSS

On the Web and in game magazines you'll find many game reviews and
"must have" lists. I am not familiar with even a fraction of the
titles so I may need to hire my sons to write some reviews,
demonstrate the software to me and try XBox 360. Some titles that
sound interesting are: SimCity 4 Deluxe, The Sims II, Microsoft Flight
Simulator 2004 - A Century of Flight, Madden NFL 2006, RollerCoaster
Tycoon 3, Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, Monopoly Tycoon, Sid
Meier's SimGolf, Capitalism 2, and Airlines 2.


Power, D.J., "How can simulation be used for decision support?" DSS
News, Vol. 4, No. 14, July 6, 2003.

Power, D.J., "How can behavioral models be used for decision support?"
DSS News, Vol. 4, No. 23, November 9, 2003.


          Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
  83 frequently asked questions about computerized DSS 


DSS Conferences 

1. Water Management Decision-Support Software Workshop 
November 16 - 17, 2005 - Niagara Falls, New York, USA,

2. Third Annual Pre-ICIS Workshop on Decision Support
Systems sponsored by AIS SIG DSS, December 11, 2005, Las Vegas,
Nevada. Workshop URL: .

3. ISCRAM2006, the Third International Conference on Information 
Systems for Crisis Response and Management, Newark, New Jersey, USA, 
at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from May 14-17 2006.
Check .

4. ICKEDS'06, the Second International Conference on Knowledge
Engineering and Decision Support, Lisbon, Portugal, May 9-12, 2006.
Check .

5. CIDMDS 2006, International Conference on Creativity and
Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support 
sponsored by IFIP WG 8.3, June 28th - July 1st 2006, London,
UK. Check .

7. DEXA 2006, 17th International Conference on Database 
and Expert Systems Applications, September 4-8, 
2006, Krakow, Poland. Check .


 Call for Nominations: AIS SIG DSS Award for Best Journal 
       Article 2005, nominations due March 15, 2006. 
       Check .


What's New at DSSResources.COM

11/04/2005 Posted interview with Hugh Watson "Understanding
Computerized Decision Support". Check the interviews page.


DSS News Releases - October 22 to November 4, 2005
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

11/04/2005 BUPA selects Teradata for business intelligence platform.

11/02/2005 SAS #1 in data warehouse generation tools; recent analyst
report lists SAS as the leading vendor for data warehouse generation.

11/02/2005 Call for papers: 8th International Conference on Data
Warehousing and Knowledge Discovery (DaWaK 2006).

11/02/2005 ILOG JRules enables Option One to streamline mortgage
lending processes.

11/01/2005 Microsoft previews new Windows Live and Office Live

11/01/2005 ProClarity launches online resource center for Microsoft
SQL Server 2005 business intelligence.

11/01/2005 BlackBerry 8700c accelerates in Cingular fast lane.

10/31/2005 Oracle unveils free database - Oracle(R) Database 10g
Express Edition.

10/31/2005 Balanced Scorecard Collaborative honors Best Buy,
Ingersoll-Rand, KeyCorp, NASD, and Ricoh with prestigious Hall of
Fame award.

10/31/2005 Hyperion Academic Alliance awards faculty training grant
to Dr. Betsy Page Sigman.

10/31/2005 Juneau Police Department standardizes on Business Objects.

10/28/2005 RFID market expands from $1.95 Billion in 2005 to $26.9
Billion in 2015 as applications become more advanced and diversified.

10/28/2005 Enterprise software M&A activity returning in an industry
ripe for consolidation, says Standard & Poor's.

10/27/2005 Management Information Tools introduces MITS Report -- an
intuitive, interactive report generator.

10/27/2005 Business Objects passes the billion dollar revenue

10/27/2005 Decisioneering Services to provide clients with risk
analysis expertise.

10/27/2005 Open Source in the Enterprise: from evaluation, adoption
to implementation and optimization - integrating open source into
existing IT platforms.

10/27/2005 Despite new product introductions, worldwide market for
handheld devices continues to decline, according to IDC.

10/26/2005 Leading global technology companies sponsor
BetterManagement LIVE; annual leadership conference draws business
leaders and technology experts to share critical knowledge and

10/26/2005 SAS launches Business Intelligence Competency Center
program to promote customer excellence.

10/26/2005 SAS drives superior performance from data to decision; SAS
performance management identifies opportunities for improvement across
the entire enterprise.

10/25/2005 Symbol provides women's retail store with 'New Look' for
enterprise mobility.

10/25/2005 UCLA Medical Center shreds hospital paper chase with
mobile, wireless access to comprehensive patient data.

10/24/2005 Fair Isaac positioned in the Leaders Quadrant for Basel II
risk management solutions by top analyst firm.

10/24/2005 Oracle expands supply chain suite with PeopleSoft
Strategic Network Optimization and PeopleSoft Production Scheduling.

10/24/2005 TIBCO adds master data management capabilities and expands
focus on consumer markets.

10/24/2005 Microsoft builds business intelligence into Office


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