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Peer Review

The Beer Game



Overall Numeric Rating:

3.33 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jul 02, 2002 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This is a logistics game based on the version originally developed at MIT in the
1960s to illustrate the ?bullwhip? effect that can occur in supply chains.The
game simulates one year (52 weeks) of order or production decisions for four
roles in a supply chain for beer: a retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and
manufacturer. Players make an order decision (or production decision in the
case of manufacturing) every week based on demand, stock, and backlog from the
previous week. From one to four players can participate simultaneously; the
system automatically fills in ?ghost? players to occupy unfilled role(s) when
fewer than four players participate in a game.
Type of Material: Simulation
Recommended Uses:
Technical Requirements: Internet browser
Identify Major Learning Goals: Students can understand:
1. How order or production decisions for one ?link? (role) in the supply chain
can affect inventory levels and costs for all other roles.
2. The ?bullwhip? effect that can result throughout the supply chain due to
changes in demand.
Target Student Population: College, graduate, or professionals in purchasing, marketing, logistics, or
other supply chain related functions.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: An introduction to the concepts of supply chain and the simulation itself
(rules, objectives, roles, etc.).

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: This simulation enables up to four players to participate in an internet-based
simulation that demonstrates the ?bullwhip? effect in an example supply chain.
As such, it is significantly less time-consuming and less error-prone than
manual, classroom-based versions of this popular game.
Concerns: The simulation is simply the game: decisions, results, and a very simple ?rule
of thumb? for evaluating the effectiveness of overall simulation performance.
It does not include instructional elements, e.g., definitions of terms,
overviews of concepts, help, feedback directly related to students? decisions or
outcomes, etc. As such, this game is not a ?stand alone? module.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The simulation could be played in a variety of ways, ranging from:-one student
assuming one role with the simulation assuming the other three- to four students
playing at different locations.It is also technically possible for one student
to assume all four roles as long as he/she joins the same game from four
different browser windows.At the end of the game, player(s) receive a ?Cost,
statistics? summary for their game including a:
- cost score by player/role.
- total team cost.
- graphs illustrating order, stock, and cost by player/role throughout the
simulated year.
Concerns: There is little instructional guidance or decision-making support provided for
students throughout the simulation. Instructors would need to supplement this
before, during, or after the simulation. For example, before the simulation,
instructors would need to explain basic supply chain concepts and relationships
and the terms included in the simulation. Since no online decision making
support (like graphs of past demand or decisions) is available online,
instructors would have to assign record-keeping tasks to students to help them
keep track of relevant information. After the simulation, instructors would
need to debrief with students to help them interpret and discuss their learning
from the summary graphs and game overall ? and how the game can relate to
real-world situations.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: MA-system?s Beer Game simulation is attractive and engaging. The instructions
that are accessible before one starts the game (by accessing ?Rules of the
Game?) are clear and easy to reference; players have the option of playing the
game in a different window so that the instruction window can remain available
for easy reference. The game also appeared to process quickly from round to
Concerns: The ?instructions? link from the first screen of the Beer Game was not
accessible. Since this help was not available and terms were not otherwise
defined, players would have a difficult time setting up the game (i.e., choosing
the ?playmode? of ghost setup roles for one-player game) and starting their
decisions (i.e., understanding the relationship between orders, transports,
stock, and backlog. After the game, student would probably need help
interpreting their individual and team results and the interrelationships
illustrated by the graphs. Instructor support before, during, and after the
game would be necessary for most audiences.

Other Issues and Comments: