Date posted: 6/11/2018 4 min read

Transforming accounting ethics

RMIT launches serious game to educate accountants on the new code of ethics.

In Brief

  • RMIT has launched a ‘serious game’ Bogart Technologies
  • The game helps bring to life the new IESBA Code of Ethics
  • Accountants can use the game to earn three CPD hours

Associate Professor Eva Tsahuridu, RMIT School of Accounting
Dr Gillian Vesty, RMIT School of Accounting
Professor Steven Dellaportas, RMIT School of Accounting

RMIT University has launched a virtual reality game 'Bogart Technologies' to help educate accountants on the new code of ethics.

The International Ethics Standards Boards for Accountants' (IESBA) released its restructured and revised Code of Ethics in April 2018. The Code will become effective from June 15, 2019 and accountants are required to familiarise and comply with the code.

RMIT School of Accounting developed the 'serious game' to bring the new code to life using digital simulation to put accountants in challenging ethical situations.

Serious gaming accounting education is new, and I think we are the first ones to do this.
Steven Dellaportas, Professor of Accounting, and Acting Head of the School of Accounting, RMIT University.

"The new restructured and revised code was the impetus for our game because this is a great opportunity to develop something that was going to assist the global accounting profession to become familiar with the structure and content of the new Code," says Associate Professor Tsahuridu.

'Serious games' combine the seriousness of education with the fun of virtual games.

In RMIT's game, which launches in February, accountants join a fictional technology firm, Bogart Technologies, where they practice making ethical decisions, recognise ethical issues, and increase awareness of ethical responsibilities.

Steven Dellaportas

Steven Dellaportas, Professor of Accounting, and Acting Head of the School of Accounting, RMIT University.

Associate Professor Tsahuridu says the game's development comes amid a need for new types of ethics training, particularly to address ethical overconfidence.

She says 70 to 80% of people believe they have above-average ethical standards. But in reality, there is a gap between "what we expect we would do and what we actually do".

She adds that the biggest problem of unethical conduct is "not bad people but good people behaving badly".

But Assoc Prof Tsahuridu says ethics education often does not reflect the real world and can be focused on right and wrong ethical choices, not ethical dilemmas. It can also fail to prepare accountants for the influence of groups that erode ethical standards.

Dr Vesty says digital technology can create real world experiences where the "learning comes from doing".

She says the Bogart Technologies game reflects the real world because it provides "loosely structured problems with unclear goals and incomplete information".

Gillian Vesty
Gillian Vesty, Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting, RMIT University.

The new IESBA code has three steps: identify, evaluate and address any threats to the principles of the Code.

"That's where our game comes in," Tsahuridu says. "To be able to see and identify you have to have the insight and the awareness to see the ethical issues."

"So in terms of identifying and evaluating that is where our game offers immense help and increases understanding for professional accountants."

When accountants complete RMIT's serious game they receive a microcredential, or 'badge', from RMIT, which certifies the accountant has acquired the capabilities and skills.

Professional accountants will also be able to claim three hours of continuous professional development (CPD).

Professor Dellaportas says microcredentials are skill-specific digital certifications designed to develop professional skills and capabilities. "They are short, sharp, very specific and can be done in hours or weeks".

He says they are important in training accountants in softs skills such as ethics.

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