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2017 Serious Play Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton, an evolving presence in the field of Game-Based Learning, is acknowledged internationally for blending his executive, teaching, and scholarly experience with his higher education expertise in Serious Games & Simulations.

Never subscribing to the "sage on the stage" paradigm in higher education or T&D (Training & Development), he has demonstrated enormous success in the delivery of immersive learning experiences. Michael is a fervent evangelist for Serious Games deployment because he knows they work: he has seen the results of the learning outcomes through the career advancement of colleagues, fellow professionals, and learners – his term for students.

“There are probably about 42 different learning strategies, of which games are only one,” Michael says. “What I have found is that Serious Games give a better return on learning than any other tool.”

Sutton has shared his personal journey – a historical narrative that describes his passion and motivation for the fast-growing field of Serious Games & Simulations and how gaming has been a critical element in his professional development. He realizes that not every professor is excited by the idea, but he hopes that opinions will change as educators work towards engaging generations of learners.

In his capacity to transform organizations through the intervention of new information systems, he was also able to introduce serious gaming into the learning environment in order to build upon soft skills like leadership, team building, and communications, as well as the hard skills associated with information technology. The outcomes certainly intrigued the executives he reported to. They all noticed increased engagement, commitment, and problem-solving capabilities, along with positive attitudinal and behavioral changes. Michael was in his element, creating immersive learning environments that provided the training participants with real problems to solve and real situations and barriers to overcome. Most importantly, he wanted to introduce fun in the learning space.

Michael has recently established his consulting services firm, FUNIFICATION LLC, in order to provide advice to local and international entrepreneurs, higher education faculty institutes, public sector organizations, and enterprises. 

Michael Sutton’s session at the 2017 Serious Play Conference, Game-based Learning Through Flow and Flow-based Leadership: the FLIGBY Simulation, will outline and illustrate the game-based learning value proposition and cases where this application has been applied successfully.

FLOW is Good Business™ (FLIGBY®) is an online Serious Game to be used in Leadership Development programs both in academic and business settings.

Intended for decision makers, the game is based on the Official Flow-Program developed by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and produced by ALEAS Simulations, Inc., a Serious Games developer based in California and Central Europe, Hungary.

Professor Csikszentmihalyi defines “Flow” as a state of heightened focus and immersion in contexts such as gameplay. He is inspired by the vision that the program’s lasting benefit will result in more effective management around the world.

FLIGBY was designed by experts to be the globe’s top leadership development game; it won the Gold Medal Prize of the International Serious Play Awards in Seattle in 2012. FLIGBY’s credentials as a game-based leadership teaching and training tool has evolved to prominence in the last 2 years. The Game offers a unique databank, generated by thousands of player decisions linked to skill measures, ready to be exploited for academic and practitioner research purposes. Creativity, flow and happiness are core concepts of positive psychology. These traits are particularly relevant for organizations, especially in forming value-based business management practices.

Michael will give his presentation Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 1.45 p.m. - Room A.

For more information on Serious Play Conference, an annual gathering of thought leaders in the serious games industry, go to