Spark City, developed by The Gronstedt Group, was selected as a finalist in the 2018 Serious Games Showcase and Challenge in the Business Category.
Spark City is a mobile business game that gives players a “taste of” what perfecting the art of retail customer service is about in the context of Walmart’s Sales Floor.
Unveiled last June by Mark Ibbotson, EVP of Central Operations for Walmart U.S., the game is primarily intended for Walmart associates who receive training to advance in their career. The game is delivered as both iOS and Android apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets and will eventually be available to the general public.
The simulation will be used to train associates of the world’s largest private employer on new processes and special in-store events that can’t be easily recreated, much like VR is used in Walmart Academies (please find also VR Serious Games Finding Their Way Into The Workplace). The new $200 stand-alone Oculus Go VR headsets are rapidly breaking down barriers to VR deployment.
Spark City challenges Walmart associates to manage various departments where they make inventory, staffing, and customer service decisions, packing months of business processes into hours of game play. The game challenges players to level up through increasingly complex real-world tasks, motivating players to put the concepts they learn in Walmart Academy into practice, performing Walmart's "One Best Way" routine. It provides real time feedback, including customer service, inventory and sales. Game mechanics keep the game fun and engaging while focusing on learning tasks, including mission and storyline, hint-system and feedback, level progression and freedom to fail.
Players get to customize their avatar before heading to the backroom of the store, where they scan products and load them to a cart.
They get to solve discrepancies between how many products are in the inventory system and on the shelf. When the player has completed the backroom tasks, they bring their cart of products to the sales floor, where they stock the products on shelves.
Image credit: Spark City - Dry Grocery
Customers who have trouble finding a product need to be walked to the shelf.
Once the player has managed Dry Grocery, they level up to the Lawn and Garden Level where they manage a team of four.
Additional levels are under development. In the next level to be launched later this year, the Electronics Department, the team members have their mood indicated with one, two or three sparks. Next, they will level up to Customer Service, Electronics, Apparel, and Fresh Produce departments, assistant store manager and store manager.
According to the developers, the game will afford an ongoing learning experience in the future, with new expansion packs addressing cases like the holiday season and new store formats, showing associates a career path to management ranks.
About The Gronstedt Group
Founded in 1997 and based in Denver, Colorado, The Gronstedt Group is a digital training agency at the intersection of gaming, media and learning. Anders Gronstedt, its President, is an advocate of using Next-Gen Learning tools to advance real-world skills through virtual reality training, transmedia storytelling and game-based learning. Anders holds a PhD and is a former faculty member of the University of Colorado–Boulder School of Journalism. His articles have appeared in the Harvard Business Review.
The Gronstedt Group has been instrumental in helping global companies like Google, Walmart, Intuit, GE, United Healthcare, Dell, Avaya, Microsoft, KPMG, DaVita, Kimberly-Clark and government clients like the U.S. Department of Transportation and the City of New York improve performance with innovative learning approaches.