Using Articulate Storyline to Create Business Simulation Games – Part 1

Using Articulate Storyline to Create Business Simulation Games – Part 1

Serious games in eLearning usually take the shape of branching scenarios. These are games where learners read a scenario, case study or question and are required to choose from a list of pre-generated options. Based on the selected option, learners are routed through different paths and in the process gain points and badges. Good examples of such types of simulations can be found here:

There is another class of serious games that is based on mathematical models. In such games learners are not presented with static choices but can take decisions that control quantifiable variables like price, quantity, speed, investments etc. These controlled variables are linked through uncontrollable or environmental variables like market size and inflation to measurable outcomes, like sales and profits. These links can be expressed using mathematical equations. Such games are also called business simulation games as they are dynamic and attempt to simulate a thin slice of the real world. A simple simulation game can be constructed using the following two formulas:

  1. Sales=No. of customers * (price index * quality index) (where price and quality index is the relative price and quality of the product in comparison to competition)
  2. Profit = Sales – Cost of Production

We can now ask players/learners to design their product (which impacts the quality), set a price and see how sales increase or decrease and how that impact profits. The popularity and quality is calculated by the software by comparing against a fictitious set of competitors generated by the software or can be based on decisions of other players in a multiplayer game environment. This means that unlike branching scenario games, which are almost always single player games, business simulation games can be single player or multiplayer. They can range from simple games that require only one or two decisions to be taken to complex games that require learners/players to take multiple decisions. Here are a few examples of business simulation games:

Using Articulate Storyline Articulate Storyline is our favourite tool for creating interactive self-paced learning and we have created hundreds of hours of learning using this tool. However, we had never created a mathematical model based simulation in Storyline and decided to see if this is possible.

The game we decided to create is a classic business simulation game used in schools and colleges across the world – The Lemonade Stand. You can play a version of this game here –  Articulate Storyline allows the use of variables to track on screen events and to store values. This is a great starting point as data from user inputs can be stored and processed. You can learn more about variables in Articulate Storyline here –

However, to be able to carry out more complex mathematical operations we need something more powerful. We will need arrays and mathematical functions like average and random number generators. Articulate Storyline does not provide such advanced features, but, it can be extended using Javascript (a front-end programming language for the web). Using this method, Articulate Storyline can talk to an underlying program/code written in Javascript. You can learn more about using Javascript with Articulate Storyline here – This means that we can use the power of Articulate Storyline in managing the user interface and capturing user data and use Javascript to execute the mathematical equations required to power our simulation game. And, here is the result. Click the image below to play the game.

Lemonade Stand

Business Simulation Game: Lemonade Stand

In the following parts in this series, I will get into the nuts and bolts of how this game was created and also share a framework for designing other such games. Meanwhile, please let me know your feedback about this simulation game. Did you make profits?

Ajay Dasgupta

Ajay Dasgupta is the co-founder and VP, Global Sales at Epiphany Learning. In a career spanning over 18 years he has worked with several large organisations and implemented learning strategy and learning programs. While he focuses on learning strategy, technology and marketing, he his still an instructional designer at heart. He can be reached at -

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  1. Thanks for this demonstration.

  2. hi, i am looking for multiplayer Lemonade Stand game for my team. kindly suggest.

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