Strategic Sustainability by Serious Gaming: A Case Study of STRASUS

Ningna Xie*, Raphael Freiherr Heereman von Zuydtwyck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review


There has been considerable progress in incorporating sustainability topics into serious games, particularly on fostering corporate learning about sustainability. Exploration is still limited in connecting learning from game sessions and game development context. Within the Interreg-VA Dutch-German project "STRASUS", a browser-based multiplayer simulation game for logistics-related companies, was designed to sensitise learning about sustainable business. Our study presents research in learning from game sessions and game development, using insights from analyses of documents, interviews, and observations in light of the learning-loop concept. The results show that single-loop was fully achieved; double-loop learning was achieved except for players not consistently linking comprehension of some sustainability concepts to the normative factors in business decision-making. Deutero learning was detected for the game designers and researchers involved in game design: both groups were sensitised about the difficulties to match the linear approach of game development with complex sustainability concepts. Our findings emphasise that strategic decision-making, key performance indicators and reflective debriefing are linked to the effectiveness of game-based sustainability learning. Furthermore, the learning-loop inspired assessment provides a valuable evaluation method for clarifying learning on the cognitive, normative, and contextual level. In conclusion, serious gaming offers a valid and practical approach to foster corporate sustainability learning if the game allows strategic thinking in players' decision-making; if multidisciplinary collaboration leads to the appropriate portrayal of complex decision-making processes for sustainability; and if game-based learning is reflected upon learning objectives that can be thoroughly discussed in the debriefing and beyond game sessions. As a suggestion for future research, we expect further investigation on how sustainability games could work together with other participatory learning activities to capture the benefits of different learning loops in an extended period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th European Conference on Game Based Learning (ECGBL 2021)
EditorsPanagiotis Fotaris
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-914587-13-9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • learning loops
  • serious games
  • game-based learning
  • multidisciplinary sustainability projects
  • business simulation
  • education for sustainability
  • GAME


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