Maersk : Game on

An online oil drilling simulation may engage the ‘gamer generation’ but do the benefits justify the expense?

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The feature

Maersk Drilling, the subsidiary of the Denmark-based transport and energy conglomerate, has an online strategy game, ‘Quest for Oil’ that puts players at the helm of a virtual drilling rig in the middle of the sea. The game sets real-world type challenges to find oil on a given budget in a limited amount of time, in ocean settings around the world – eg, Southeast Asia, Qatar, Gulf of Mexico. ‘Advisers’ are on hand to help players analyse seismic data, take educated guesses about where oil might be, buy licenses and drill. The game is promoted on Maersk Drilling’s jobs and careers landing page; it can be played on the desktop or via apps on Android and Apple devices.

The takeaway

We tried the first level of the game, an ‘easy’ challenge to drill for a small amount of oil ahead of a computerised opponent. The educational benefits are easy to see: there are video lessons and virtual assistants teaching the tricks of the trade, and a lot of effort has gone into making the experience realistic (to the point of needing to do something else while the drill made its slow way through hard chalk). Whether it is truly ‘fun’ is a matter of taste, but with added complexity at higher levels and multiplayer competition, it could be compelling.

There is no doubt though that it is an innovative pitch to grab the attention of millennial jobseekers, and for those with the time to play, the game provides an authentic view of what it might be like to manage a drilling project. It has wider benefits too, helping to spread knowledge about one of Maersk’s core businesses. A Forbes article says the game cost US$425,000 to develop, so it will need to be well used to justify the expense.
First published 03 June, 2015
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