The development of people skills has become a key element of management training in the real estate profession. Strategic skills and implementation skills can make or break business success. Universities and business schools are up to better integrate these challenges of the real world in the classroom. This paper debates the teaching experience with the ‘The Blue Game’; a serious business simulation game for experiental learning, developed and used since 2012 at the Henley Business School, University of Reading. The game is set within a capstone term in the MSc real estate programme and delivers a strategy training in responsible investment in real estate.

The students’ object in the game is to solve an actual business dilemma in the Australian real estate market. To win the game, the students team up in groups and take on roles. They develop winning strategies for their companies, incorporating the dynamic interplay of competition and cooperation. A blend of both online and on-site learning tools includes a physical ‘Real Investor’ game box with game money and agreement cards, an electronic memory stick with data about real world portfolios of assets, lecture-style tutorials in game theory, networking applications of the social media Facebook and Twitter, and an interactive e-book for iBooks.

‘The Blue Game’ allows participants to develop a range of personal transferable skills, such as negotiation, team working, leadership, strategic thinking, managing complex relationships, meeting deadlines and delivering professional presentations and reports. It also contributes to delivering professional values and wider value sets relevant to the real estate sector such as sustainability and social responsibility. However, instrumental for a successful learning outcome is an experienced game master – making a stimulating setting available for dynamic exploration, steering a successful workflow, and providing intermediate feedback and individual coaching.

Different from a fun game, ‘The Blue Game’ is a serious game, based on the behavioral concepts of game theory. In the past 6 years more than 1000 students have played the game and enjoyed their exciting learning experience. Positive feedback from the industry qualifies ‘The Blue Game’ as a highly effective learning tool – facilitating the development of interpersonal skills and contributing to the actual challenges of employability in the real estate sector.