A barrier to entry for many entrepreneurs is fear of failure; Allowing for virtual entrepreneurship may help convert would-be entrepreneurs from participating in the virtual world to taking risks in real life. Engaging in a start-up community, accessing shared resources and having ideas validated encourages individuals to take risks. Gaming also allows all individuals to experiment with start-ups regardless of their background, encouraging individuals who might otherwise never consider entrepreneurship. Furthermore, by giving LaunchLand users an opportunity to apply to a startup incubator, we are helping bridge the gap from the virtual world to reality. This gives users a tangible resource and promotes the move from experimentation to implementation.
How the game works:
LaunchLand allows budding or wannabee entrepreneurs to safely test drive the world of start ups. Players choose from a list of avatars and have three options to start, they can either 1. be a solo entrepreneur 2. start a business with other friends or 3. take up a role on an existing team. In all cases they can add team members as they go. Adding team members takes equity, but will increase resources for the company. Team members can be facebook friends or individuals from the LaunchLand community that a gamer selects based on their profile and past performance.
Players starting a business choose from 5 different industries. Each industry has 5-10 business concepts for players to choose from with varying competitive dynamics. Players can also upgrade to choose from a larger list of business concepts to add more variety to the game without overwhelming first time users.
The goal for players is to grow the valuation of their company, earn networking clout and experience points. Players earn money and points by making smart investment decisions, collaborating and responding to changing market conditions.
Once players have chosen an industry and business concept they now need to figure out the best way to invest their money. Just as real entrepreneurs rely on others for advice, knowledge and expertise, LaunchLand players can use their euros to get advice from industry experts, “talk to consumers” and buy market research data.
Players are then provided with a makeshift office in “Mom’s attic” and are given several options as to how to start the business. They will use the information they have received and can use points for additional advice in order to get started. As a player becomes more successful they are upgraded from "Mom's attic" to more stylish offices. They can even use points to buy amenities like ping pong tables or snack machines for the office.
Players make investment decisions using euros and equity to grow their experience points and the valuation of the business. Decisions include (but are not limited to) capital investments (upgrade machinery, office space, IT,) advertising and marketing spend, R&D and product development and hiring staff. Individuals earn euros when they are able to sell product, engage customers, and collaborate with suppliers. They earn network clout when they collaborate with and mentor other entrepreneurs. Individuals can lose network clout and euros if they deliver products that don’t meet customers needs or mistreat their workers.
If a business is successful “investors” may offer to buy all or some of it. Players can choose to continue to work with their business or sell the business off. Players are able to keep the money they make from selling the company to start new companies within the game. This allows individuals to experience success in growing the business and keeps them engaged with the game by allowing them to explore other industries and business models.
Simulation gamers occupy a substantial segment of the mobile gaming market, investing a significant amount of their expendable income in the virtual economy (also termed,
synthetic economy) in the context of an Internet-based game. Players predominantly visit these venues to fulfill recreational interests, and often do so multiple times a day to regulate discrete ‘resources’ and maintain their competitive advantage in the live virtual market. This concept would provide a forum to mingle entrepreneurial talents with entertainment interests.
We believe this game is viable based on the success of other business games such as Fantasy CEO and Wall Street. Some of these games incorporate real-time market data, which we believe might be an interesting twist for LaunchLand. We could like commodity prices, electricity and overhead costs, seasonal demand and other variables of the game to real time market conditions. We are exploring this as an option for later versions of the game. Despite the popularity of other fantasy business games, to our knowledge, there has yet to be a "Fantasy Entrepreneur" type game.
This game could also be used in educational settings just as many other simulation games are used to give graduate and undergraduate business students experience with the trials and tribulations of the start up world. Thank you to many collaborators who shared their ideas and suggestions about LaunchLand as an educational tool. We believe it can be successfully incorporated into a curriculum to teach students about entrepreneurship as well as remain open to the mass market in order to engage individuals who would not otherwise have an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship or experiment with start ups.