Emil Oliver Creates Massive Business Education Games | Episode 137

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Emil is the founder of Hubro Education, who develop learning games for business education. He founded the company after a professor approached him, frustrated that he couldn’t find a learning game that met his requirements. Today, their simulation games are used in 14 countries all around the world.

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Full episode transcription

Rob 00:39    Engagers welcome back to once again the Professor Game podcast. And in this episode we have Emil and I’m not sure if I didn’t ask you this before. Is Emil the right way to pronounce it?  

Emil 00:50    Uh, well the Norwegian way is pretty hard for any English speaker, so it’s normally Emil but it just turns off.  

Rob 00:57    So Emil, I’m trying my best there. Are you prepared to engage?

Emil 01:01    All the way

Rob 01:03    Yeah, let’s do this. Because ML is the founder of Hubro education. They develop learning games for business education. So this is kind of near and dear to my heart. As you know, I work at IE business school and in my department, we create engaging and interacting learning materials. So it’s very, very close to me at least at the beginning, very focused on business education. We’ve met in several conferences as well and he has founded this company Hubro Education after a professor approached him, frustrated that he couldn’t find a learning game that met his requirements, I’m guessing for that class. Nowadays today their simulation games are used in over 14 countries all around the world. So very exciting. We also met at a conference and he’s probably not going to say this especially, I mean I understand that people like to be, you know, sort of humbled. But he also got an award in one of the conferences where we met in Lisbon. So that was… congratulations once again for that. And you know, it’s one of the good things about getting to meet very interesting people in his world. You get to see the award winners as well. So Emil, is there anything we’re missing from this intro?  

Emil 02:06    Yeah, well thanks a lot for that. I, uh, no, I wasn’t not going to mention to the award. No, I feel you caught the gist of our background.  

Rob 02:14    Great. Great. So let’s move on to the first thing and we always like to get to know our guests, you know, beyond the introduction, which is always great, but like what would you, I dunno, again, we’re in this Coronavirus environment: before coronavirus during coronavirus or estimating what to look after the new normal after this, what does a regular day look like? What is your typical schedule? What would that look like for Emil in a day, like again, like today for example,  

Emil 02:41    well, these days we just roll out of bed and put on a cup of coffee and we’re good to go. Uh, so I, uh, um, it’s a very hectic time now. It’s, it’s a great time to be an education technology. I think if of course, where were seven or eight weeks into like Corona quarantine right now and in the first week, all of the education tech that I could think of was offering all their services for free. And on the other end of that market, all the educators I knew were looking for things that would help them bring, make distance learning engaging, which is from my experience notoriously hard and a lot has happened since then. So we’ve had, or having something like an average on somewhere between 10 and 15 demo requests from all around the world every day now, which is pretty cool. It’s pretty high above what we’re used to.  

Emil 03:31    So these days it’s hectic. It’s a quick shift between those meetings, replying to those incoming requests and trying to at the same time develop the things that are needed to make an engaging distance learning experience.

Rob 03:45    That sounds great. It sounds great. It’s, it’s a, I mean there are sectors in the economy that are not going great at all. Um, today I was, was discussing with my students the case of an airline and of course, airlines are going to have or are having already a very hard time during these times, but there are hopefully other things that will not necessarily compensate but at least alleviate this difficult situation for many. And I’m happy to know that one of the things that I think going on is that simulations in online games for business education are picking up as well in your sort of corner. And that’s great news.  

Emil 04:17    Basically there has been no distance learning in secondary education in Norway where I’m from. And just overnight, something like 75% of all the net teachers nationally and just joined in, this one Facebook group and started sharing their problems and how they can solve it. And I saw someone make a meme just one week in saying what learning tech are you on before? And it was basically its learning, which is the dominating learning platform in Norway. And afterward, it was just this huge cloud of words with new skills that they acquired. And I think it’s possibly the best thing about this entire thing. There’s a lot of downsides, companies going bankrupt, people losing their jobs, people getting sick. But that’s maybe the big thing there is, the disruption and the other end and industries that really have to throw themselves around and change and a lot of the services that are there and a for them it’s just driving the actual adoption.  

Emil 05:12    Yes, yes it is. It is pushing for that and it’s also pushing the boundaries of what these services are capable of doing nowadays. And I can tell you that from, from my experience with teaching online right now, some services are, and rightfully so, it’s not like nobody expected this to happen. Some of them are also struggling with their capacity right now because they weren’t expecting their services to be used a hundred more times than it used to be the week before. Right? They were mostly not prepared for that. So moving on to one of the first questions that we always like to sort of draw a lot of learning from is of a time in which Emil you, you know, you were setting out to do some, some of your projects. Maybe one of these learning games or something related to these games and in this world. But of course, you know, as life happens you had a moment of first  

Rob 05:58    attempt in learning or a fail or a failure and we would like to recall sort of your favorite failure, one of those that led you into interesting places or that brought you a lot of learning or that you were able to have a nice comeback from. We want to sort of be there in that story with you. We want to live it with you and of course take away the key lessons from that as well.  

Emil 06:16    Well, I’d say the, the one that comes to mind is if I just go back in our story, we started out as a spin-off at a Norwegian Norway’s largest technical university at NTNU and we basically got the opportunity to take the biggest management course in the entire university and use that as our pilot project. For that semester, there were 600 students doing the course. They had, uh, always had the largest auditorium in all of the university and we were there ready to test our pilot version or beta whatever. And we were certain that, okay, this has worked so well with smaller groups of 20, let’s see if we can handle the dynamic with this larger group. And um, I’m sure you can guess what happened next.  

Emil 07:01    So it’s basically the same thing that’s happening with, with everyone at the moment. Like suddenly instead of managing 20 people on the server, you have 600 and it goes down and you’re, you’re so aware of time, like for every time that passes, if you have 600 students in the room, then you’re wasting, what is it, 10 hours of work time for every minute that passes by and it’s like so extremely hectic and such a maturing experience where you have to, these are people that are, your fate is really in their hands, right? Because if they are satisfied with the experience, that is what we’re looking for. That was the whole purpose of the thing was it, does it work with a large group and does this large group gave us their blessing. So on one side, we learned that really handling that kind of situation and being prepared for it is alpha, mega, that kind of sense. We, this actually did happen when you launched the second version of the simulation as well, except we handled it a lot better so it wasn’t all that stressful. And secondly, I’d say that’s the big bad one that kept me awake for a while.  

Rob 08:02    I’m sure it did. I can, I can sort of feel that pain in many ways because we’ve also been doing these kinds of things and every now and then like literally you can sometimes say, well what could I have done better? And you sort of prepare for those things and you have to again prepare for the capacity. It’s not the same as you say to have 20 people accessing at the same time than to have 600 or 6,000 or 20,000 you have to prepare for these things capacity wise in the digital world. But then sometimes, you know, like this literally happened within our business school at some point just happened once, but you know, lights went out in Madrid, you had no electricity. So how do you do a simulation without electricity? Like, there’s nothing you can do like well you know you have to improvise them. Maybe within the class. One of our professors after this, she was like super nervous. She’s not one of our youngest professors, so she was not very keen on technology in general. She uses our simulations very much. But after this incident she felt like she needed like extra support each time it’s like, well I’m sorry, of course, we can be there for you, but there’s nothing we can do if ever, you know, electricity is just shut down again in the building. You know what I mean? Like these are things that happen.  

Emil 09:10    Yeah, that’s kind of a poor argument. Like if lights go out when you’re teaching with a PowerPoint or anything, then lights are out. Like you can’t, or you just expected to sit there and archivist and lesson.  

Rob 09:20    Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, completely. But you know, it’s just more about handling the emotional situation, I’m guessing for these kinds of people. And I mean, I don’t know, maybe she felt that it hadn’t had been for technology. Like there was some sort of way in which technology has to do with this whole, you know, massive screw up because you know, losing power in the middle of the central Madrid, it’s not a common thing to happen, definitely. So again that seems like a very key lesson. Like how to prepare for these things. Is there like in particular, what would be maybe one thing that you did differently and that sort of second time it happened that you would say well just by this sort of small tweak or medium-sized tweak, we changed this thing and it prepared us a lot better for a situation like this one.  

Emil 10:02    Well the best thing you can do is to have some kind of backup offering. And the biggest thing we did differently, the second time is to actually bring the course owner and the lecturer. So we said, okay, things aren’t working exactly as hoped but we need 50 minutes to have it back online. Can you give an introduction to the next topic, which was the topic that was planned not to be taught before that section though it would be highly relevant. So and even if it went down and other times she could just continue on that topic. So it would have been completely in line with the actual learning goal of that course while still being in line with what we were doing at the simulation. So it was kind of a, I don’t think the students even knew that it went down, just went down and we had a good coverup.  

Rob 10:44    and that sounds fantastic. Like a very smart strategy as well. And taking the 180-degree spin and looking at, you know, again a major challenge that you faced or something that you wanted to tackle in this business educational world and you actually were able to do it again the first, the second or the 10th try it doesn’t matter, but that you feel that was a massive success in this learning games world that you are developing. Can you again, we want to live this story with you. We want to see what happened. How did you come out of it? Like what were the key lessons from it or maybe the key thing that took you there.  

Emil 11:13    Sorry. Key lessons that got us to…  

Rob 11:15    Yeah. To the success to the situation in which you managed to sort of overcome this challenge or to manage to get to your objective of, you know, whatever it is that you were trying to build.  

Emil 11:26    So along the way, of course, we’ve been, so just to take a step back, of course, what we’re developing are these business simulation games that are used in primarily the basic principle courses and business studies. And of course, these are studies where the students don’t have a lot of background in the topics. The whole purpose is to give them more of a holistic feel and understanding of the course. If you’ve just heard a little bit about marketing, heard a little bit about accounting, you’re not really thinking business, you’re thinking a little bit about accounting and a little bit about marketing completely separately. And so of course when we’re developing those, we always focus a lot on is it meeting the user group’s needs. So we’ve always tried to uh, at a very early stage, kind of a lean startup approach, bring it into the classroom, test them through with students and so forth.  

Emil 12:13    And I find that a lot of the smart little features and the big ideas are the ones that get teachers really engaged with what we do are things that have come up like from that actual meeting with the user. So we’ve maybe made a first betta of, for instance, the second simulation we have called Hubro marketing, which is for marketing courses that we were out of school in Oslo, testing it with something like 70 students. And I was in front of the class. And the good news was that the students were really engaging with the simulation. The bad news was that they were so engaged that the job of trying to connect it with the syllabus, which is really the teacher educator or facilitator’s job, which was really hard. So you had to like stand at the front of the class and stomp to get their attention and it’s really suboptimal.  

Emil 13:00    And at that moment I realized, huh, would it be great to have a button to just take their attention, just blackout the screen? And so we made that button. So currently it’s the simplest but most brilliant kind of design of that kind of feature where your students, when it’s all eyes on the teacher, you’ve actually grabbed their eyes because the screen just turns gray and tells them, look at the teacher. So I think our journey has been just a long trail of that kind of ‘ahas’ that we found along the way where you’re constantly engaging with the user. And it’s not just about the game design, it’s a lot about understanding the learning environment that we’re trying to fit into. And I think that is such a complex environment and that it’s part of your software. It’s part of the teaching that the educator is offering from before. In many cases that’s more of a traditional kind of lecture. How do you fit into that environment? And it’s of course about the technicalities and the technique, which also has a very big design component. Like you can’t make it hard to use. Tech has to just be there and work. So yeah, that’s kind of the red thread or, or,  

Rob 14:10    yeah, it’s kind of a silver lining in a way that ties all these things together. And one interesting thing that I thought that I had when you were telling the story is like that simple, you know, it sounds very simple. It’s just a button to turn everything off and get people to pay attention to the facilitator. Like sometimes the answer to a huge problem or that could be, again, a huge problem does not necessarily need to be something huge and complex. And you know, very hard to do. Sometimes the easy solutions get the job done and you’re already doing part of the job by engaging your students and engaging them with a part of their learning. But you know, that next sort of next step to get people to do maybe debriefing or to connect those concepts together. You also need to incorporate that. And it kind of brings a problem as you were mentioning, if people are too engaged with the simulation and not so much with your facilitator, then you have to do something in a smart way that you can do it is a simple solution. I’m sure, you know, programming-wise that was not the most challenging thing that your team had to do. Am I correct?  

Emil 15:13    Yeah, very much so. Can I, can I ask a question? Sure. So you mentioned earlier this professor that um, the lights went out and uh, and now you have to offer a support every time she’s doing something like this. And I find that that is the biggest barrier for teaching being changed and upgraded and innovation in teaching is this kind of technophobia. Of course, part of it may be a lack of incentive, but the other part is definitely that there’s a fear of doing something wrong as well. I find that especially maybe especially for the older guard, but not exclusively. So how do you guys overcome that part of it?  

Rob 15:53    Well, the funny thing is that our professors and even some of our authors who have created these materials with us, so they’ve been the academic, the content creators and those things. They’ve been with us in this development process. They use them in every single class that they have on the topic. Some of these are the ones that require us or expect us to be in the classroom and we’ve been trying to move away from that as much as possible. But of course, they’re, they’re our main, our internal audiences that most important one for us. We have to make sure that they are well attended because we want to make sure that on the one hand, we keep on producing and creating. Awesome materials with these star professors. We also want to make sure that they continue to use it and talk about it to other professors and that they have of course a good experience.  

Rob 16:36    But the funny thing is once you take that sort of out of our business school, our university, and of course somebody in another country, they cannot have us, you know, right standing next to them and clicking the button next in the simulation in their screens. That’s something that’s just physically not possible. So once that happens, these other professors who might have exactly the same profile, they use it by themselves, they have success with it because that’s of course very, very important that you really take away most of the technical problems that they could have. Anything that is not related to their pedagogy, like anything that has not to do with that. If that’s taken away and they do it successfully once and twice, they’re off to the races. I mean, professors are very smart people as well. I mean, there are many professionals and people in general that are very smart, but professors are also very smart.  

Rob 17:24    It’s not like they’re stupid. It’s not like they’re not capable of using technology. They created their own PowerPoints. They created their own things. They use computers every day. It’s not like these are sort of people who are, I don’t know, I’m not, I don’t want to name any professions or anything, but people who never use technology, they use technology every day, but they’re just like so used to having that sort of near a person helping them that maybe they fall into that sort of trap. And again, some of our, where I’ve used these and or used to having somebody right next to them, like supporting, not really supporting because again, if wifi falls and internet falls in your block, I mean there’s, these are connected to servers. We cannot bring the wifi back. We’re not technical. It’s not the technical people who go there. It’s more people in the pedagogy side who know and understand how the simulation works.  

Rob 18:09    They felt like more confident with thiS support, but once they were needed to teach, for example, they need to go to China and teach it. Of course, we are not going to travel to China to teach it with them. They use it by themselves. They have success with it. It’s like, huh, I actually can do this. So it’s more of a self-confidence situation in many cases. Not every one of them. There are people who are never going to use these things. That’s something that has to be set clearly as well. You want to work and you’ve probably seen this with the people who will have some, you know, “keenness” or some willingness. At least that’s something you can work with. If it’s somebody that just from the start says, I’m not interested in that. I don’t want to do it. Don’t lose your time. Don’t lose your time unless there some sort of key stakeholder in some way and you have to convince them.  

Emil 18:52    Yeah, definitely. I, I definitely recognize that I in the university I read “crossing the chasm” that you’re familiar. 

Rob 19:00    Absolutely. Absolutely. So crossing the chasm just for the audience, for people who might not be familiar, it’s, well, you go ahead and explain it please, Emil.  

Emil 19:07    Well, it basically portrays the market as this bell curve where the audience to the very left are the people who are the most inclined to adopt your technology and moving further and further right, as you get to a larger part of the market, they are less and less inclined to. And the first section is then called innovators and early adopters and so forth. And what I was getting at is when you pass the 50% line, you get to this late majority and then the laggards. And I find that of course, it’s never a goal in itself to pass, to go deep into the late adopters and the laggards with this kind of teaching material. So actually we’re at this point at something like exactly 50% of all Norwegian secondary schools use our software to some extent. And at this point we have just said, we’re not going to invest anything in getting into more schools like this. If anyone finds us and knocks on our door, of course, they’re welcome to get exactly the same treatment as everyone else, but it’s just not worth it knocking on their door or anymore,  

Rob 20:08    pushing them to this kind of thing. And maybe you were starting to think about not only Norway, you’re looking at, I don’t know, countries are around you, like I don’t know, Sweden or whatever is your first focus and or the rest of Europe or the rest of the world because there you will find more of that early majority or those early adopters and so on. So yeah, definitely that makes a lot of sense. And Emil when you’re creating one of these learning games, I’m guessing that you have some sort of, I don’t know, structure. When you’re creating these things, how do you, how do you do it? How do you approach a project? Let’s say you want to create an operations simulation game tomorrow. How would you approach it? What would be your, your strategy, your, how do you gather your ideas and your team together and how do you do these things?  

Emil 20:48    Well, we have kind of developed our own process over time. So we’ve been doing this for seven years now and we find that we apply a lot of kind of design principles and just basic entrepreneurial product development principles. And of course, we always start with the end-user and the need at the purpose of the offering. So I would start out by finding an operations professor like you, uh, and asking, so what are the main learning goals in that course? And then of course, what is even the purpose of adding a simulation to it? And it can be many different things, but what is it that a solution, a simulation or a learning game can add to this kind of course that you can’t solve with your current arsenal of teaching tools? So always looking for that unique position that has a problem that needs to be solved.  

Emil 21:33    That’s kind of the first step for us. And just to bring it over to our story. Again, we with the simulations we already have, it’s always been about finding, we find these professors who often have tried other simulations as well and find that they just don’t do it and it’s either technically really badly designed, it’s hard for the students to get into and part of our niche has become, uh, targeting these extremely large classes. So, uh, whether you view extremely large as 250 or, or in the thousands at that point the instructor can’t have a one to one with everyone anymore. So we’re trying to meet that kind of situation as well. And on a conceptual level, we’ve kind of said that what do you need to design these kinds of learning games? There are, um, boil it down to four capabilities that you really need.  

Emil 22:23    It’s the technical aspect. That’s something we’ve really worked with in house and that we have a backbone in the company with three very, very bright developers that have everything we need in that aspect. But then there is the learning science, which is something we both read up on a lot. We’ve had countless discussions with different practitioners and also researchers to kind of get an understanding of how do we really learn and how do you learn in a game setting. Then of course there’s the design part. We have to design the process that the learner will go through and that is we’re kind of working from both ends there. We are first imagining what it could look like, but then we, as I said earlier, we can take this kind of lean approach where we make something very simple. We try it out on some users and we see that here we have this, there was this great dialogue over here.  

Emil 23:10    We can make this kind of dialogue show up in many other tasks as well. This is just the thing we’re looking for. And then finally there’s the academic aspect. What is the subject matter that you’re conveying? And we’ve focused on, I’d say a kind of narrow field and it’s that it’s the business studies, but then again we can’t be experts in both marketing and management accounting and corporate finance and operations. So we always ally with a lecturer or a university to make sure that they are making the academic foundation for it rock-solid so that it’s not necessarily tied to a textbook, but it is tied to the lingo in that area and following the best recipe we’ve never had anyone arrest us on either one of these. I think it’s that small intersection between them where you are able to create great learning games and especially great learning scales, for scale, both at the class level and on a global level. The technical aspect would say isn’t that important? If you’re teaching a small class and you’re making a simulation in Excel or some other simple tool, but if you’re scaling it to tens and hundreds of thousands of students, then it really has to have that safe tech aspect as well.  

Rob 24:20    Absolutely. Absolutely. So Emil what would you say is something that is sort of a best practice? Something that you would say is you know, again a best practice, something that any business learning games should incorporate or something, some strategy, some perspective that you use in that sense? Would you say that there’s such a thing for business learning games?  

Emil 24:57    Well, yes and I do think that there’s one aspect that maybe even business learning games are good at that many other things aren’t, but I think if I have one kind of, Oh, I can’t remember the English word, but kind of a cause that I would parade through the streets for. It’s that educators could consider themselves in a way as marketers and salespeople because you are fighting for the attention of a listener and whether you’re making a game or you’re making some other kind of media or learning material or anything, you are always trying to convey a message and you cannot just assume because you write it on a page or write it in the instructions for a simulation that the listener has actually observed and understood the content of it. I think that is something so many educators would benefit from is, is not assuming that if I say it or write it or put it on a note, that it’s, it’s something that the student will first of all, see that’s one thing, but then understand and behave according to.  

Emil 26:01    So I mean there’s no simple way of solving that problem, but I do think just being aware of it does do a lot about it. So I mean, taking this back to educational games or the learning setting in general, I would say that of course a lot of these games are, of course, they have an easier time catching your attention than, for instance, a video where a lecture or that kind of thing. But I do think it is a kind of a, let’s call it a first principle that it’s about catching their attention and creating engagement. Then of course you need to start by capturing that attention and keeping it.  

Rob 26:38    Absolutely. Absolutely. So best practice would be, you know, sort of thinking like a marketer and how to catch the attention of your learners, which is definitely something we’re absolutely into, especially in this world of gamification, creation of games which are engaging mediums to reach amongst other things, the attention and the engagement of our learners. And would you say that there is somebody, I know you heard a couple of episodes as well, we’ve been talking for a while, you know we’ve discussed like what are the things about this podcast and is there somebody that comes to your mind, somebody who would like to listen to somebody else? Of course, after this interview that you’ve had that you would like to hear from in an interview like this one in Professor Game.

Emil 27:16    there are, I mean there are, first of all, I haven’t gotten to the bottom of your list  

Rob 27:22    absolutely, absolutely like, but is there somebody you’d draw inspiration from that perhaps having been or has not been that, that’s hard to after 130 something episodes probably where we’re around now we’re 140 it’s going to be hard to make sure that they haven’t been on the episodes before, but somebody maybe you draw inspiration from, somebody you’ve read from some friends that you have, somebody you’ve talked to about these things that you would like to sort of hear their perspective in a different way in an episode like this one.  

Emil 27:50    Well, I do think just to point it out, I think I’ve been discussing who has succeeded in education technology. I’ve been thinking about that a few times and trying to draw from them. And I would say that out of all of those there are of course the mastodons of education tech is are the publishers and the learning management systems. But then there are some of them that just stick out that have done a really good job in the adoption. And again, that is the hardest part in education. How do you incentivize like, an educator doesn’t really have that kind of incentive to, you don’t pay out a bonus for an educator for adopting more tech or adopting more teaching tools or that kind of stuff. So how do you make them adopt then? And the one example I have of a company that really has succeeded there is then Kahoot.  

Emil 28:37    And especially there is a guy who used to be their CEO and it was uh, one of the founders, his name is Johan Brand. And then there’s a professor from the same university we, started out, who kind of came up with the original concept and just learning about that. How do you make this kind of tech so available? And so easy to adopt that you actually make millions and tens of millions and now it’s probably hundreds of millions of teachers around the world use this. Oh wait, wait, it’s not a hundred mills and teachers but still users. I think that is a perspective that developers of learning games, uh, prospective entrepreneurs and educators alike would benefit a lot from hearing about, I think  

Rob 29:21    so they are one of the founders of Kahoot would be probably one of your recommendations, right?  

Emil 29:27    Yeah, definitely. Definitely.  

Rob 29:28    And then that same sense of recommendations. Is there any book that you would recommend an audience like this one, like the Engagers to read? Again, it could be very directly related to learning games or it could be sort of in a near area that something that is to this or not so near just to draw general inspiration is, is there something that you would recommend us?  

Emil 29:48    Yeah, I’m a terrible reader. Uh, I read way too little. I kind of want to say because well in the sphere of education I feel like our company has been compared a lot of times to some others that work with kind of workforce training, gamified workforce training and that kind of stuff where the whole point of it is this repetition of some kind of routine. And my argument for what separates us is what Hubro is doing is not that you are giving the students a safe environment to stop and think, analyze, discuss, try something out and then reflect over what happened. And a framework that has given me a lot of perspective on understanding the difference there. It’s not textbook, it’s close though. So it’s Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. So I mean the understanding that I’ve kind of gotten about the human mind from that book and from hearing interviews with him as well is very, very insightful. Of course, it’s a tough read but it’s truly insightful and points out, like I find myself like, you know, when you sit with a book in your lap and then you read something which just makes you go, huh, okay, I do that all the time. Those kinds of cognitive biases that he’s pointing out. Like, Oh yeah, I actually did this today and you, um, again, a tough read. But every, every 10 pages you’ll have like a new concrete takeaway that’s, that is guaranteed to change your behavior in some way.  

Rob 31:18    Fantastic. Fantastic. Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow is definitely a powerful book I’ve heard from before. I have to read it. I have it on my list definitely. And in that same, you know, sort of cruising around these recommendations I would like to know if you have what you would call your favorite game.  

Emil 31:37    So the other day I had a meeting with a professor who mentioned that he’d played this Oregon Trail. Have you played it?  

Rob 31:44    I haven’t played it. I know there are still versions going around the internet right now. I’m not sure of their, how legal it is for them to be distributing these things. But I know that that I’ve seen it around and I’ve heard a lot about it because there’s, there’s a deep component and an educational component there and it’s very, very basic in many ways of you see the technologies of nowadays.  

Emil 32:06    Oh extremely basic. I’m sure a bright 10th grader could program it if he has the skills. And I mean the reason I point to it is because it has these beautifully simple mechanics where there’s no one right answer. You still have, you have a clear goal, you have a lot of variables that you still have to play on. You have these mini-games inside where you can’t bring enough food to ride your horse and your wagon 2000 miles. So you have to hunt along the way. And I do think it forces a, it does require a bit of skill. It has this great story element. Of course, it’s from 1985 so there’s no reason talking about graphics, but still, it has this historic context that I also love. So I think once I found it after this professor told me about it, I just had to play it through and when I failed the first time I had to start over.  

Emil 33:00    Uh, so I think, and again it’s the kind of game that’s so transparent that if you have never designed a game before and you play that game and you approach it in the way like how did they build this game? I feel like you’ve actually learned something about game design from just observing it because it’s not pong where it’s all skill, it’s about understanding what variables impact your position, your and your likelihood to make it to the end. And I think that’s so transferable to so many game environments and not just game environments, but situations where you have to think critically throughout.  

Rob 33:33    Absolutely. Absolutely. It is a great game. I’ve heard many things about it and now I’m, I’m having sort of that worm bite me back and saying that I have to play it as well. So thank you for that. I’ll try to like, these are, as you were mentioning, you’re getting all these demos. I’m getting a lot of requests of many different things, both from the usual job, from the nine to five here related to the podcast. Also related to my current teaching, which is very, very intense in this period. So I am pretty busy but I always try to look for finding some time to get some of that inspiration as well. And you know, Emil. Before we let you go, I want to make sure that you let us know where we can find you, where we can find out more about your, your games, about Hubro education and of course if you have any final words of wisdom to leave us with and then we’ll say as usual that it’s game over.  

Emil 34:24    Uh, well, easiest ways to go to our homepage, hubroeducation.com. If you leave us a message in the contact form or in the chat there, then it’s likely that I’m the one to respond. You can also find me on Twitter @HubroEmil, that’s H U B R O E M, I, L. And, otherwise, I don’t think I have anything to say except thank you so much for having me on and it’s been a lot of fun.  

Rob 34:49    Thank you very much for joining us, Emil. It’s been a pleasure. It’s always great to have this sort of back and forth, with people who are interested in these things. We have had a lot of experience as well. You’ve been doing this for seven years, creating these games and as well we can sort of riffraff a bit about what you’re doing because we’re, we’re in very related fields as well and that’s also very, very cool. However, at least for now and for today, it is time to see that it’s game over.

End of transcription

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