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Avista (Energy Company) Worker and RPG Research Discussion on RPG-based Professional Training

by Hawke Robinson published Jun 20, 2015 05:05 PM, last modified Feb 05, 2023 12:22 PM
I just had a surprising dialog with some Avista (my local power company) workers regarding role-playing games...
Avista (Energy Company) Worker and RPG Research Discussion on RPG-based Professional Training

Avista in front of Hawke's house July 25th, 2016

On July 25th, 2016, around 11:00 am, loud jackhammers were pounding away as myeldest son said, "like a thousand angry woodpeckers", in my front yard. I had suspected for weeks the Avista crew would be visiting my house soon when I saw the surveying and utilities markers on my yard. They have been gradually replacing old shorter power poles and lines with taller and newer equipment throughout the Whitworth area in the last few weeks.

To clarify, this does mean Avista company has endorsed anything, this was just a casual conversation that I thought folks would find interesting.

I came out to ask when I should expect the power to be out, so that I could have my generator running for my web servers in my home, but they indicated it would be 2-3 days before that happens. Then one of the workers (foreman?) asked if I developed role-playing games for a living, he assumed computer-based RPGs because of my mentioning he serverves, and because he saw my RPG license plate and bumper stickers, he explained that long ago he had played Call of Cthulhu. I quickly explained what I do (study the effects of all RPGs, tabletop, live-action, & computer-based), and their potential uses for achieving educational and therapeutic goals.

He then asked if I thought it could apply to their industry. I thought for a few moments and answered happily, "Yes!".

I then ran through a number of examples about how they could do so. At first they were suggestion computer-based games, which would be totally do-able but I pointed out the expense for such development. And it was clear they already had a semi-LARP of physical scenarios to handle, but as I explained the benefits of more immersive learning than a lecture, I pointed out that a tabletop setting would be a good bridge between the lectures and the "live-action". 

I talked about how each would take on different roles, and would use dice to add a little more random factor to the situations, supplies, available, the statistics of each person available, etc.

He was very excited by this prospect, asked for contact information (I provided brochure), and he asked if we could get together later for coffee or similar to pick my brain. I also let him know I am currently working on training programs to teach people how to create RPG-based programs for their workplace.

A little later I came out with a card as well, and he was already running scenarios through his head, wanting to call it "Storm Soldiers", you get randomly assigned crew, random shortages of equipment to work around, etc. He was clearly mulling the possibilities.

It will be interesting to see if this progresses. I have some years (long ago) of work history in many areas, including mining, electrical (automotive, residential, and industrial), executive retreat scenarios, and professional training. So I could fairly quickly whip up an RPG-based training program for Avista if they were interested. Really it seems to me an easy, low hanging fruit, not really innovative but obvious use of RPG for training. But I would be happy to develop and implement. It would be even more interesting if we could run a few controlled studies to see if the ones receiving the RPG-based training performed any better than those without. Everything I have read in the literature would seem to support that the RPG-based trainees would do significantly better both in the short and long term compared to the control groups, but nothing like actually implementing a controlled study to refute for validate! :-)

Of course I need to decide if I would provide the initial services for free, since they would be somewhat playtesters for the industry, but let me retain full rights to the program to take it elsewhere, or if I should charge them one of my various rates from the RPG Therapeutics LLC branch ( ). If I do charge anything, I will put any amount received directly into the Wheelchair Friendly RPG Trailer fund. 

Will see if this comes to fruition or not, and will post an update if anything to report, but thought worth capturing this shortly after the event, to keep the idea while fresh in my mind.

Happy Gaming!