What prompts a successful Pittsburgh gaming company to change its name after 10 years?
Etcetera Edutainment had made a name for itself creating educational video games for a range of industries, but the company moniker never quite reflected its line of video gaming products for a wide range of industries, says Jessica Trybus, CEO. So it did what any smart startup would do, rebranded with a name that captures more of what it does, Simcoach Games.
The name plays off the word simulation as in simple, interactive and measurable. “It’s a sort of pivot,” says Trybus, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center who founded the company out of CMU in 2005. “We wanted to rebrand our company and let our products speak for themselves.”
Simcoach brings gamification to the corporate workforce, helping to not only train workers and teach skill sets but improve job safety, a hot space that is driving growth. The startup employs 15 and expects to nearly double in size this year. (Check out NEXT jobs.)
It also delivers video simulations for productivity, ethics, cognitive learning and customer service. Many of the products are delivered on mobile devices, says Trybus.
In 2012, the company extended its game-based methodology to sustained behavior change applications. In the coming month, UPMC will roll out a Simcoach mobile app for patients called “Heart Failure Coach.
Heart failure patients will play mobile games to learn to incorporate key behaviors to facilitate their recovery. On the workforce side, the videos will assist ER doctors in recognizing trauma cases, business students in practicing ethical decision making and analysts in improving adaptive reasoning and problem solving abilities.
Hospitals are no longer being reimbursed by Medicare for certain repeat procedures. They need to find new ways to change patient behaviors after major surgeries, explains Trybus. If it proves successful, Simcoach will expand the methodology to other hospitals.
By simulating potential health problems during recovery, such as what symptoms to monitor and when to call the doctor, we are able to help some of the sickest patients, she says. “We’re just trying to motivate them and present critical skills they can practice.”
“Good game design is good learning,” says Trybus. “The bottom line is it’s active learning. Players are making choices. If you don’t make choices, there’s no game and no effective learning.”