Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
research, education and training, career develop-
ment and life-long learning are possible and effec-
tive. Thus, computer games technology is getting
an increasing importance in the development of
valuable professional tools for scientists, engineers
and educators (Chryssolouris, Mavrikios, Fragos,
Karabatsou & Pistiolis, 2002), (Irawati, Hong,
Kim & Ko, 2008) and (Callaghan, McCusker,
Losada, Harkin & Wilson, 2009).
Software applications similar to computer
games but explicitly designed to serve educational
or training purposes, instead of entertainment, are
commonly referred as “serious games” (Barnes,
Encarnação & Shaw, 2009). Serious games are
not new. For instance, a professional training
flight simulator is a classical example of a seri-
ous game. In here, a trainee pilot using a real
cockpit interface interacts with a computer based
system representing a real world scenario (Shutao,
Qitao, Jun & Junwei, 2009) and (Menendez &
Bernard, 2001). Until recently, highly realistic
but extremely expensive simulation systems, such
as flight simulators, were only common in train-
ing environments where risk and cost are major
concerns; for instance, in aerospace, military and
nuclear plants scenarios (Karr, Reece & France-
schini, 1997) and (Gaskell, Husman, Collier &
Chen, 2007). However, the great advances and
the reduced costs of computing technologies and
of the supporting hardware are making serious
games common training tools (Chittaro & Ranon,
2009). For instance, light vehicles, trucks and bus
simulators are increasingly being used for train-
ing in driving schools all over the world. Less
mundane synthetic scenarios, concerning serious
games in middle and high school education as
well as professional skills training can be found in
(Arango, Aziz, Esche & Chassapis, 2008), which
is a very interesting survey on serious games in
education and training.
Any serious game is a very specific product,
since it is oriented to a particular and sometimes
uncommon subject or training procedure, and
to a certain, probably restricted, class of users.
This means that mastering computer science and
modern computer games technology, together with
being a great digital artist and having funny ideas,
are necessary skills for developing a successful
serious game, but they do not suffice. For develop-
ing a training application, programmers have to
rely on a considerable guidance from experienced
trainers to meet a whole set of important user
requirements; namely, trainee motivation, easy
to get effective tutoring, a natural interface, some
form of gratification and room for experiment and
creativity (Wong et al., 2007).
Hence, the effective value of a serious game
is mainly predicted by a small group of trainers at
its development stage. Yet, in practice, this param-
eter, and the overall interest of the application, is
judged by another, usually very different (Prensky,
2001), group of people, accepting or rejecting the
developed game: the group of trainees. If trainees
found the application uninteresting, then even the
most technologically powerful and great digital
art based serious game is condemned to not be-
ing voluntarily played anymore, ending up in the
stack of boring stuff in CD format. Therefore, not
surprisingly, most computer games producers
consider “serious games” as a restricted, odd, non-
predictable and thus not particularly interesting
market, concentrating their professional interests,
business investments and research activities in
“entertainment games”. Fortunately, this attitude
leaves room, scientific matter and business op-
portunities to proficient enough multidisciplinary
teams who want to grasp the opportunity.
This chapter is precisely about “grasping the
opportunity” in the context of the serious games
business market; more specifically, in the context
of designing and producing serious games for logic
control training. Central to the chapter is the “ITS
PLC Professional Edition” software package (Real
Games, 2010) - hereafter commonly referred as
ITS PLC -, an Interactive Training System (ITS)
engineered and produced by a multidisciplinary
team and aimed at Programmable Logic Control-
lers (PLCs) programming education and training.
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