The Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) is developing a new game-based learning tool called TradeUp to introduce young people to most of the construction trades required to build a new home.
The venture is being done in partnership with Something We Love, a worker co-operative studio in Winnipeg that makes small, non-violent narrative and whimsical games with light mechanics.
“The age group we are targeting for this game is from middle school to post-secondary,” explains Ramir Diaz, co-ordinator of education and training at the MCSC. “However, this game should be engaging for all age groups that have an interest in a career in the construction industry. This game allows everyone that plays to learn about the different tradespeople on a residential construction site from start to finish.”
The immersive technology demonstrates the building of a house. Students learn about the different trades involved in residential construction and who the main trades are on a jobsite through seven stages of a build.
There can be up to 40 different trades involved during the building process. The game focuses on the skills of each trade.
“The goal of this challenge is to select the correct tradespeople to build your project within the specified time period by selecting the appropriate tradespeople that are identified in each stage,” says Diaz. “Once all assigned objectives have been completed, the construction process advances to the next stage.
“However, if all tasks were not completed or were selected incorrectly, look out. Users must click the ‘try again’ button and reattempt.”
The main goal of the visuals and experience is to engage users. The curser can be moved over tradespeople and the game incorporates a retentive visual and actual audio effect by pairing action with sound during game play.
It is being designed to compliment the Trade Up Manitoba website.
MCSC has partnered with ChatterHigh, an organization that engages high school students in an online active learning format to increase career awareness across Canada. The company has been helping the MCSC educate and raise awareness about opportunities in the construction industry using digital learning modules that were developed from resources on the Trade Up website.
Other associations also provided expertise for development of the game. The Construction Safety Association of Manitoba identified safety hazards throughout the different stages of the build which includes personal protective equipment for trades, guardrails, fall protection and maintaining proper distances for heavy equipment. The Manitoba Home Builders’ Association approved the accuracy of the project.
The plan is to distribute the game via social media, the Apple app store, on the Trade Up website, at school presentations, career fairs, summer camps, introductory construction workshops and events, forums and expos.
According to Diaz, even through these unprecedented times, the construction industry in Manitoba is on the rise and booming in the heavy and ICI sectors.
“Where the shortages lie, this game will appeal to labourers, apprentices, journeypersons and the entire construction workforce.”
He says the construction industry is a multibillion-dollar industry in Manitoba that offers a wealth of opportunities and flooring installers, carpenters, landscapers and cabinetmakers are in constant demand in the new homebuilding, renovation and institutional construction sectors.
“With a number of certifications or with construction experience, plus a diploma or degree in business, communications, accounting or management, you can climb far and high in the construction industry.”
The MCSC first used downloadable game-based learning tools in 2010 for school presentations and to create awareness at career fairs and expos.
A virtual reality tower crane simulator at a cost of $40,000 was first used to engage students.
According to the MCSC, game-based tools and learning modules have been well received by educators, students, industry and parents. They have allowed users to become aware of the career opportunities by listening to local tradespeople, engaging in stimulating games and learning about safety in construction in a safe, inclusive environment.
The MCSC plans to implement different phases of the TradeUp game with the focus on the commercial sector next year. The following year will be a heavy/industrial construction build. The game will be similar to the residential build and will identify the various trades trades involved in those sectors.
Other resources are also being developed.
The MCSC, in partnership with the Workers Compensation Board and Bit Space Development, is currently developing a chainsaw safety awareness resource in virtual reality. This resource is geared to Indigenous, northern and remote communities, safety associations, unions and newcomer agencies and will align with provincial regulatory codes and other non-virtual training programs.
The game is being designed so it can also be offered in forestry and construction industry settings, secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. The project may be completed by the end of this year.