Mobile Gaming:  Logistics' Next Step Toward the Mainstream

by Nico Scopelliti

When UPS launched its "We Love Logistics" advertising campaign in September 2010, they took a step toward making the idea of logistics go mainstream. Before that, the average American might have heard the word, but had little to associate it with. Logistics as we know it, is a lot more than parcel delivery, and introducing the public to a simple, everyday concept that they can easily understand and relate to isn't a bad thing. I think this is a positive development, actually, as I believe the more people understand about what we do, the more rapidly the industry will advance.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the next step in the mainstreaming of our art form, when I happened upon an actual "logistics" game in the Apple App Store.

Enter:  Lumo Deliveries, Inc. "Fulfil [sic] your lifelong dream of becoming an international logistics manager. Lumo Deliveries is a charming and compelling mixture of strategic planning and easy fun."

Your lifelong dream of becoming an international logistics manager? Obviously, I downloaded it instantly.

The game involves taking repetitive actions and making decisions to manage your delivery service and slowly grow into a globally dominant company. You need drivers, you need vehicles, you need the money to pay for them, and you need the time to get the packages delivered.

It's essentially a game of decision-making about what to do with your primary resources:  money and time. What will you spend your resources on? A new driver, or a new vehicle? Which driver will you hire? The loyal one, or the one with the superior license who can drive farther? Or perhaps you should train the ones you already have? What about maintaining and upgrading your fleet?

The game is very charming and creativity designed, with great artwork and fun music. It's peppered with Easter eggs and humorous, wacky tidbits that produce an overabundance of cuteness. Take, for example, the importance of employee morale. It actually plays a big part in the game. If you don't manage morale, your drivers will go "beatnik," meaning they'll sit around listening to music and refuse to do any work. To improve their mood you have two options:  you can play the bongos for them and get them jazzed up, or you can hypnotize them, motivating them via brainwashing.

While the game is enjoyable, I found that it's not the kind of game you can play for more than five minutes at a time. It's a bit too heavy on tactics and too light on strategy for my taste. But I must say, were we to perform a full Theory of Constraints analysis on the game, there's a lot more depth than I'm betting even the developers intended. And as a layman's introduction to some of the fundamental concepts we deal with in logistics, I have to give it kudos.

Try it out! It's free. And if any of your kids has an iPhone or iPad, have them take a whack at Lumo Deliveries and see what they think. Maybe they'll just yawn and go back to playing something else. Or, maybe it'll spark some interest...

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