Serious games are games designed for a primary purpose other than entertainment. They involve the use of electronic games technologies and methodologies and are meant to take on real-world problems.
Defining Serious Games
The term "Serious Game" has been in use for a long time and has been redefined over the years.
Author, Clark Abt in his 1970 book "Serious Games" puts forward the following definition. Although he was referring primarily to the use of board and card games at the time, the definition still holds true to the digital age.
Reduced to its formal essence, a game is an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context. A more conventional definition would say that a game is a context with rules among adversaries trying to win objectives. We are concerned with serious games in the sense that these games have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement.
Mike Zyda provided an update and a logical approach to the term in his 2005 article in IEEE Computer entitled, "From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games". Zyda's definition begins with "game" and proceeds from there:
- Game: "a physical or mental contest, played according to specific rules, with the goal of amusing or rewarding the participant."
- Video Game: "a mental contest, played with a computer according to certain rules for amusement, recreation, or winning a stake."
- Serious Game: "a mental contest, played with a computer in accordance with specific rules that uses entertainment to further government or corporate training, education, health, public policy, and strategic communication objectives."
Uses of Serious Games
Serious games can be used for a number of purposes including:
- Social Networking
- Business Modeling
They are used in many industries and sectors such as:
- Military Defense
- Scientific Exploration
- Emergency Management
- City Planning
- Tourism and Cultural Heritage
- Virtual Conferencing
Serious Games offer a powerful, effective approach to learning and skills development. According to author, Isabelle Arvers:
They are called serious games, not because other games aren’t, but because the game is used in a pedagogical way for political, social, marketing, economical, environmental or humanitarian purposes. The game Darfur is dying made to understand better the conflict in Darfur, or Food Force, a game created by the UN in which users play to distribute food are few examples. Similarly, artists create games that are social or political critics. McDonald the video game, the satire of McDonald restaurants by the group of Italian activist artists Molle Industria or the games of Gonzalo Frasca September 12 or Madrid prove the capacity of games to expose ideas.
References and Further Reading:
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_game