A Serious Game for Eliciting Tacit Strategies for Dynamic Table Assignment in a Restaurant
This paper deals with the table assignment problem in a restaurant, where groups of customers arrive without reservations. The problem is basically a combinatorial optimization problem of finding a desirable match between the groups of customers and the possible sets of combinable tables, but has dynamic as well as subjective aspects. This makes full automation of the task unsuitable and hence it is usually carried out by an individual based on informal and unspecified strategies. This paper proposes a serious game approach for eliciting effective tacit strategies for handling the dynamic table assignment task in a restaurant. The developed game is a single player game, where the player carries out the table assignment task in a virtual restaurant. In the game, customers randomly arrive at the restaurant in groups of different sizes and wait in a room to be seated. The player can at any time assign a set of tables in the restaurant dining room to any of the waiting customer groups, if all the tables to be assigned are vacant and combinable. However, if dissatisfaction due to waiting reaches a pre-specified limit, the customer group will leave the waiting room without having a meal in the restaurant. A prototype of the game is developed and laboratory experiments are conducted using it. As a result, it is confirmed that the score of the proposed game depends on the player’s experience in performing the table assignment task in a real restaurant. Hence, the proposed game and the actual table assignment task have at least some characteristics in common. Further, the players, on average, can improve their game scores through applying their own strategies, and the strategies can be characterized through the data obtained from the game.
KeywordsSerious game Restaurants Table assignment Knowledge management Service science
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