Oasistan: an intercultural role-playing simulation game to recognize cultural dimensions

M de Jong, HJG Warmelink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Aim. Although cultural dimensions theory is a topical strand of quantitative cultural research, few intercultural simulation games use it. We present the design and review of the application of OASISTAN, an intercultural role-playing simulation game that is specifically based on cultural dimensions theory. Method. OASISTAN was first designed in 1999 for use in Master’s courses on cross-cultural management at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, attracting 20-23 year old students with a Bachelor degree in engineering and from various cultural backgrounds. Since its first design the game has been played approximately 45 times at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and three times at Harbin Institute of Technology in China in the years 2006-2008. We reviewed their experiences designing and facilitating OASISTAN since 1999. Results. The game has a no-tech role-play design and revolves around the geopolitically complex region of the Caspian Sea, specifically the fictional country of ‘Oasistan’. The game consists of students forming small teams of Oasistani, Western and non-Western public/private actors collaborating with each other to try and reach the common goal of oil exploration and production in this country. In total 15-30 students were involved. We found that OASISTAN allowed its players not only to intensely experience the difficulty and awkwardness of being confronted with cultural differences, but also to interpret and understand these differences through cultural dimensions. Students who played OASISTAN identified ten out of the 12 dimensions by Maleki and De Jong. The two dimensions that students were not able to identify are uncertainty avoidance and collaborativeness. Conclusion. OASISTAN shows how a game design field (i.e., intercultural simulation gaming) can be reinvigorated in light of new or updated scientific theories pertaining to the field’s subject matter (i.e., cultural dimensions). Several opportunities for future research are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-198
Number of pages22
JournalSimulation & Gaming
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • cultural dimensions
  • culture shock
  • engineering education
  • intercultural simulation game
  • international business
  • role-play
  • international politics


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