Engineering design games model decision-making activities by incorporating human participants in an entertaining platform. This article distinguishes between design decisions at operational and strategic timescales as important features of engineering design games. Operational decisions consider static and short-term dynamic decisions to establish a player’s situation awareness and initial entertainment. Strategic decisions consider longer-term dynamic decisions subject to large uncertainties to retain player engagement. However, constraints on cognitive load limit the ability to simultaneously address both lower-level operational design decisions and higher-level strategic decisions such as collaboration or sustainability. Partial automation can be introduced to reduce cognitive load for operational decisions and focus additional effort on strategic decisions. To illustrate tradeoffs between operational and strategic decisions, this paper discusses example cases for two existing games: Orbital Federates and EcoRacer. Discussion highlights the role of automation and entertainment in engaging human participants in engineering design games and makes recommendations for design of future engineering design games.

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