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European youngsters can create an economic empire starting from an icecream stand in the very centre of Milan. Acquire entrepreneurial skills thanks to an educational game for mobile phones

Selling ice-cream at the corner of the street was the path to entrepreneurship for thousands of Italians, whose siblings now manage high-end ice-cream outlets all over the world. It?s a simple way to understanding demand and supply, stockpiling, promotion and accountancy.

Bocconi University, Milan, challenges European youngsters to test their own entrepreneurial spirits selling ice-cream in the fashion district of Milan, via a mobile phone game, Ice Cream Empire (ICE).

ICE is a strategic simulation game for Java phones. It mimics the management of an ice-cream stand and aims at stimulating the young to interpret the competitive environment, read a balance sheet and understand accountancy reports. Its English version is targeted to European teenagers, a group with an interest for Bocconi University?s educational offer in economics, considering that 10% of rookies are now from outside Italy.

The game was developed with the Italian mobile operator Tim and the developer Impressionware.

In order to play you just have to register at the web address and wait for the download SMS. The game is free, except for the cost charged by the mobile operator for the time of downloading.

An amusing graphic design reproduces the fashion district and the piazzas of Milan, in which the player can choose to place his stand: Bocconi University, of course; the central Piazza Duomo, front yard of the Gothic cathedral; the XIX century commercial arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele; the bohemian Brera district; Via Montenapoleone, heart of Italian fashion retailing; the Navigli area, bustling with nightlife; the Renaissance castle Castello Sforzesco.

The day of the ice cream entrepreneur takes off with a glance to the news (weather forecast and events influencing the flow of people to the six potential locations) and continues with important strategic decisions.

In stage 1 the player chooses the location of the stand, the tools to buy, the employees to hire (you could need a cashier to quicken the queue or a juggler to entertain the clients), whether to spend money in promotion, the recipe of the ice cream (watery and cheap or rich and expensive?), how much input, often perishable, to buy.

In stage 2 the player strives to control his heartbeat while looking at the people walking around his stand, buying or not buying his ice cream as a function of the strategic decisions he took in stage 1.

In stage 3 the game presents economic and financial reports showing the results of the day. The day after, the player can change his strategies according to the accumulated experience.

?With ICE we want to have a first, informal and amusing contact with young European people feeling a call to economic and entrepreneurial activity?, Angelo Provasoli, Bocconi University rector, said, ?and we want to spread economic culture. If they are willing to deepen their relationship with Bocconi University, attending our programs, we?ll be happy; otherwise, it will be a valuable contribution to the understanding of corporate mechanisms on behalf of a wide, young, international public?.

The players may compete, sending their results to an Ice Cream Stock Exchange, which compares them, making the youngsters understand how good they are in selling ice cream in the fashion district of Milan.

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