Pakistan has a large number of well-funded training organisations with great acronyms -NDU, NIPA. NCPP, CSA, NSC etc. Each of these has large tracts of land and educates about 70 to 80 students a year. It seems to me that Pakistan training academies might have the highest land per trainee ratio in the world. Given the level of governance that we get, the training academies are really not doing a great job other than occupying prime real estate. Here I would like to suggest several very cheap and innovative methods of training that could lead to large budgetary savings as well as release much valuable land for commercial development. Rather than huge tracts of prime land, let us introduce computer games as part of training. Some of these are: SimCity: A "simulation game," SimCity lets the player build and manage her own city Depending on the player's choices and design skills, Simulated Citizens (Sims) will move in and build homes, hospitals, churches, stores and factories, or move out in search of a better life elsewhere. Every action is assigned a price, and you can only spend as much money as you have in the city treasury. The treasury begins at a base amount, then can be replenished yearly by taxes, the rate of which is up to you. As you becomes more familiar with the system, you gradually develop strategies to encourage economic growth, build up the population of the city, and score a higher "approval rating" from the Sims. For example, in SimCity, the way a new area of town is developed is to "zone" it. You decide whether each parcel of land should be marked for residential, industrial, or commercial use. You can't make the zones develop into thriving homes or businesses. That is determined by the simulation, on the basis of a range of interconnected factors including crime rate, pollution, economic conditions, power supply, and the accessibility of other zones. If you've set-up conditions right, an empty residential zone will quickly blossom into a high-rise apartment complex, raising land values, adding tax money to the city's coffers, and increasing the population of the city. If the zone isn't well integrated into the city, it may stay undeveloped, or degenerate into a crime-ridden slum. If only SimCity was played by our policymakers or used in their training, they could learn so much about city management and not give us these cultureless, intellectually barren and boorish relics of colonial times that we live in. Civilisation, the Rise of Nations, Pharoah, Caesar: Now the player is in charge of one state in a region of the world somewhere in history. The game runs through time and history. Your objective is to develop your civilisation competitively with other civilisations. You have to protect yourself as well as expand your empire. In managing your empire you have to not only ensure that your citizens are happy and well looked after, but also figure out how to open and manage trade with others. Once again management requires a many sided approach with a careful eye to managing your budget. Unhappy citizens are not your allies. Very early in the game you learn that technological advancement is a fact of life and the way to develop it is through the development of knowledge. Hence you must find the resources and the time to develop universities and research. Limited investment in knowledge creation leads to a stagnation in your population's productivity and makes you vulnerable as your neighbours discover key scientific advancements like electricity, the atomic age and flight. They could gain such military advantage as to colonise you. You also learn that religion has its uses in keeping the population motivated and perhaps gaining some luck. If our training academies used these games, our bosses might learn the importance of knowledge. Oh By the way the game does not allow you to put military personnel everywhere least of all in universities. Tropico: It is a game for banana republics. Now you can be a dictator with the objective of maximising your corruption gains. The trick is to determine the combination of force, deceit and minimum level of consumption of the population to forestall a revolution that lets you stay in power. If they play this, they might do their rentseeking more efficiently - not only by stifling us from coup to coup Other Simgames: SimGolf, Sim Theme Park, Sim Tower, Sim Airport: There are a host of games that teach you the principles of management of growing enterprises. Whether it is that you are making a high rise apartment and commercial complex. Running a theme park or an airport or setting up and managing a zoo, the principles remain the same. In each case you have to manage growth in a changing environment. In each case, you have to keep up with the times and focus not only on maintenance but R&D for growth. Success depends on the ability to multifaceted learning management with special emphasis on R&D. In each case, the player learns to manage a system keeping in mind its many dimensions. Not only must development be balanced but it must be forward looking seeking to improve the system as a whole as well as all its constituent parts through research and knowledge creation. Do our managers have this eclectic systems approach? Do they respect knowledge and R&D? Games have for centuries been used as learning devices I really think that our managers of cities, education, zoos and even the more erudite policymakers could benefit from such game play. Perhaps some one could even develop Sim-Pakistan for the NDU since those people are always ready to take over. They might as well play a simulated version to train. But this would only happen when the focus is on professionalism and not land The writer is a former vice chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Economic Development