Gaming as a research method in humanitarian logistics

Heide Lukosch*, Tina Comes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology for research through game design and discuss how simulation games can be used to bridge the gap between operational exercises and simulation or analytical modelling and to provide guidelines on how simulation games can be designed for different research purposes in the context of humanitarian logistics. Design/methodology/approach This paper combines a literature review on gaming as a research method with an analysis of requirements for humanitarian logistics research methods. Starting from this theoretical framework, the authors develop a design thinking approach that highlights how games can be used for different research purposes. To illustrate the approach, the authors develop two different game set-ups that are of increasing fidelity and complexity. Finally, the authors discuss the results of the evaluation of both approaches, reflect on the design choices and provide recommendations for research and practice. Findings Gaming is a suitable research method to explore and analyse behaviour and decisions in emergent settings that require team work and collaborative problem solving. Especially when safety and security concerns may hinder access and experimentation on site, gaming can offer a realistic and engaging quasi-experimental environment. The aspects of engagement and realism also make gaming a suitable tool to combine training and research. Originality/value Although the use of games has attracted some attention in commercial supply chain management and crisis response, there is no systematic overview of gaming as a research method in humanitarian logistics. This paper is set to make a headway in addressing this gap by proposing a concrete approach to design games for humanitarian logistics research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-370
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Conflict
  • Information and communication technology
  • Research method
  • Research by design
  • Simulation gaming
  • AID


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