FUTURE TIME TRAVELLER - Transforming career guidance on future skills, jobs and career prospects of Generation Z through a game based virtual reality platform

Author: Antonia Schorer

Innovation in Learning Institute; Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg; Germany

Digitalization and the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution are changing our way of working. These changes have an impact on both the way people work and the required individual skills and competences. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare young people optimally for the jobs of the future and to support them in dealing with the future world of work. Career guidance services need to evolve to guidance into the future. Education policy should transform into leadership for the future. This is the goal of the FUTURE TIME TRAVELER project, which aims to prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future through an innovative and games-based scenario approach. On this basis, however, the question arises on how these efforts in career guidance can be achieved through game and scenario-based approaches, and how they can be applied.

So the question arises, how today’s young people can adequately expand the relevant knowledge and skills that will be relevant in the near future? In order to adapt to the conditions of today’s adolescents’ world and to make themselves heard in the “mother tongue” of the “game generation” (Prensky 2001) educational games are an increasingly important medium, which facilitates in-depth and sustainable learning (Gee 2005). Through the development of computer games it is possible to change the world by solving real problems (McConigal 2011). Playing computer games makes it possible to increase self-motivation and to generate creativity, interest and joyful emotions. They create the feeling of blissful and satisfying productivity and focus on achievable goals, thus giving better prospects for success. Social ties are strengthened, individual efforts of the player gain in importance and committed participation lead to a pleasure of life. Games have the strength to give rewards when most needed by the player. They provide an opportunity to work to solve real problems without asking for anything in return (McConigal 2011). It is obvious to support young people with their familiar digital and game-based technologies. The combination of game mechanics and learning aspects has the potential to produce motivated, enthusiastic, focused and interested learners who deal intensively with the corresponding learning content (Garris et al. 2002).

There is a vast variety of different learning games. They differ in the effort invested in their development; the learning objectives to be achieved; the thematic spectrum to be dealt with; the target group to be addressed and supported; the learning methods to be used; the degree or extent of the time taken to process them; the location or situation of their use (school, university, vocational guidance, training, offline, online), etc. Of course, one can therefore speak of good, successful and less successful learning games. The spectrum ranges from relatively lean and simple variants to ambitious, more complex concepts. Note that at this point we are still talking about analogue as well as digital games. This means that classic forms of learning such as project work, the use of board games, theme-related role plays etc. are also included. For example, in classical forms of project and group work, learners should above all learn to work together on complex problems and develop solutions together. The ability to work in a team, to communicate and to cooperate is particularly encouraged. They extend and supplement classical teaching concepts by enabling the participants to become self-determined and active learners through cooperative learning. In addition to (jointly) finding and applying problem-solving strategies, the ability to reach agreement and make decisions is also promoted.

In order to develop appealing and instructive game concepts in the context of career guidance, there are various game methods to choose from: The games can be implemented digitally or traditionally. Indoors or outdoors, played by individuals or groups, pursued competitively or cooperatively, requiring an active or passive role, practical work or reflection, etc. These methods can be implemented in a variety of ways. In principle, five game types can be differentiated for competence development: Simulation, Adventure, Role-Play, Strategy and Quiz (Game2Change).

  • Simulations enable learning through experience and immersion. New topics can be explored from a different perspective and realistic experiences can be gained in a safe environment. Through shared experiences a group identity can be created.
  • Adventure Games enable learning through problem-solving and exploration. The focus is on the enhancement of argumentation and problem-solving skills. This includes cognitive thinking and the ability to transfer to solve problems and puzzles.
  • Role-Play Games enable learning through acting. New topics can be explored from a different perspective. The focus lies on the development of communication, team dynamics and conflict handling.
  • Strategy Games enable learning through outmaneuver. The focus is on developing planning and organizational skills, decision-making and tactics through discussion and testing of new approaches.
  • Quiz Games enable learning through testing. The focus is on testing of knowledge and content.

In the following graphic you will find examples of how these game types can look in practice. The different areas and contents of career counselling can be edited in a variety of game based ways.

Carnival of jobs:

Students dress up in occupational costumes and prepare a presentation of the chosen job (it might be a futuristic one).

Guess my job:

Each player picks a card with a job title / image and puts it on their forehead without watching it. The players have to guess the job on their forehead only asking closed questions to their mates.

Job charade:

Each player picks a card with a job title and has to present it without words, so that the others guess it by asking only closed questions.

The Spaghetti challenge:

In 18 minutes build the tallest free standing structure, with a marshmallow on top. Teams up to 4. Supplies: 20 sticks of spaghetti, 3 meters of tape, 3 m of string, 1 marshmallow, scissors.

Cardboard challenge:

Participants can design games, entrepreneurial projects or whatever they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials and imagination.

Egg-drop challenge: Participants in team up to 5 have to design an effective and attractive egg protector and “sell” their invention to a supermarket boss. The egg should survive a 1 and 2 m. fall. Supplies for each team: 1 egg, 1 m of tape, 10 straws, scissors.
Longest mural / painting: Organize a “Career Day” and invite students

to paint their dream jobs or jobs of the future.

Scavenger hunting: Students in teams have to solve quizzes and challenges to find clues and reach different job locations on a map. They explore the job, interview professionals, do some of their tasks, take photos and get the clue to the next location.
Escape rooms: The students can design the rooms themselves, using different career-related riddles, quizzes and challenges
Career board games: Students work in teams to design board games for to career / skills development.


The question now of course arises how vocational guidance institutions can use these findings in their practice. How can experts and practitioners design their own career games?

In order to achieve positive learning effects through the use of game-based learning methods, the qualitative development of the games plays an important role (Gee 2005). Qualitatively good games, which are accepted and liked to be played by the player, have certain learning mechanisms, which open new fields of action to the player and promote empowered learner, problem-solving competence and understanding (Gee 2005).

On the one hand, computer and video games are intended to open up new spaces of action for users in which they can gather experiences in fantasy worlds that would be inconceivable in the real world. The active role of the player, the picking up of his habits and needs, the assumption of roles of other identities and the possibilities of manipulation of game characters and game objects are the main factors here. On the other hand, the focus is also on the promotion of problem-solving skills through adapted levels of difficulty, feasible challenges, corresponding feedback, repetitions and automation, the transfer of information at suitable points, the reduction of complex situations to certain influencing factors and interactions and the examination of real facts in a protected framework. Ultimately, the understanding of the player is also promoted by enabling him to gain his own experience through concrete actions (Gee 2005).

But what does this mean in the context of career guidance? In combination with the top 10 skills for the future of the World Economic Forum (WEF 2016) guidelines for the creation of career games can be defined. These guidelines are intended to help in the conception, design and creation of potential learning games and scenarios. The combination of these 10 skills with the requirements and principles of good learning games shows how this can be guaranteed. It is therefore not only a matter of listing important competences for the future, but also of naming elements, mechanisms and strategies that could be fundamentally conducive to these skills in a game-based learning context.

By following these guidelines, guidance counsellors can, for example, ensure that potential learning scenarios take into account important and central features of good learning games.

  1. Complex Problem Solving: Adaptation of the challenges to the target group and the intended learning objectives.
  2. Critical Thinking: Offer opportunities for reflection, comprehensive feedback and debriefing of content.
  3. Creativity: Encourage proactive, independent actions and activities to motivate and engage players.
  4. People Management: Incorporate challenges, that require the cooperation of several players/people.
  5. Coordinating with others: Promote joint brainstorming and solution finding and cooperation in general.
  6. Emotional Intelligence: Encourage the players to deal with triggered emotions through success and failure.
  7. Judgment and Decision Making: Decide at an early stage which factors should determine the judgement and decision making in the game.
  8. Service Orientation: Be transparent and clear in tasks and learning intentions.
  9. Negotiation: Incorporate elements into the game or the comprehensive counselling situation that make people present and communicate themselves and their learning process.
  10. Cognitive Flexibility: Deliberately create unknown scenarios and contexts that lead people to leave conventions and their comfort zones behind.