Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
What are Serious Games?
Serious games are games that do not have entertainment as a primary purpose. More
traditional games repurposed for a serious aim also fall into this category. This serious
goal does not mean that the games themselves are dull or serious. On the contrary,
entertainment in serious games strongly motivates audiences to learn the topics in
the games.
Furthermore, the philosophy behind serious games is to go beyond the shal-
lowness of previous offerings referred to as “edutainment” and instead fully use the
medium of interactive games to get players to understand dynamics and relation-
ships.
As such, serious games can be as complex as any hardcore game and even wear the
trappings of a fictional context. Whether the serious game is an Unreal mod meant
to teach Arabic like Tactical Iraqi or a training simulation designed to help retail sales
representatives, game writers can help make these scenarios more entertaining and
compelling.
However, writers should never forget that these are not solely entertainment
products. Entertainment must never sublimate the software's primary purpose. If
the project management program about aliens in outer space does not help managers
become more efficient and productive, then the serious game has failed its “serious”
mission.
Who Uses Serious Games?
Several groups are interested in using serious games. An educator may use Muzzy
Lane's strategy game Making History , which is designed to help high school students
understand the causes of WWI. Educators see these games as an opportunity to reach
students who learn by doing rather than by reading or listening. Furthermore, the
educator desires students to gain a deeper understanding of world history by experi-
encing the dynamics of world politics. Indeed, one lofty goal of serious games is to
revolutionize education in the classroom.
Other organizations, like the military and corporations, are also putting games
to good use. Serious games have been used to train doctors, fast-food preparers, and
derivatives traders. In the health-care arena, diabetics have been taught to manage
self-care, and all sorts of exercise games have been embraced by the public. Religious
and protest groups have used games to promote their viewpoints. In addition, new
media artists have used games to further artistic expression in multimedia installa-
tions.
Serious game developers tend to use whatever game genre best fits the serious
game's purpose. Re-Mission , HopeLab's game about cancer recovery, is a shooter,
while Peacemaker , Impact Games' exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a
strategy game.
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