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Serious Games Carmen Serrano COT 4810 What are “Serious Games”? Games designed for purpose other than just entertainment Must still be “fun”: engaging, interesting Use of Serious Games Military Education Healthcare Corporate training Social/political issues

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serious games

Serious Games

Carmen Serrano

COT 4810

what are serious games
What are “Serious Games”?
  • Games designed for purpose other than just entertainment
  • Must still be “fun”: engaging, interesting
use of serious games
Use of Serious Games
  • Military
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Corporate training
  • Social/political issues
  • Picture: “Food Force”, United Nations World Food Programme.
  • Heavy use of training simulations
  • Significant business in local area
  • NavAir, Lockheed, etc.
  • Simulations becoming more immersive and complex
  • Tactical Iraqi – based on Unreal Tournament game engine; teaches Iraqi Arabic, gestures and etiquette
  • Other industries adapting games and simulators as new approach to training
healthcare professional
Healthcare - Professional
  • Professional training and skill retention
  • Enable simulation and practice of various healthcare and emergency scenarios
  • Allow for assessment of skills
  • Cardiac Arrest! – act as emergency room technician; administer medicine, procedures
    • Accredited by American College of Emergency Physicians for CME credit
health consumer
Health - Consumer
  • Health education
  • USDA MyPyramid – nutrition and exercise
  • Treatment companion
  • Ben’s Game – for cancer patients; fight cancer cells and “fever monsters” (free;
healthcare supervised
Healthcare - Supervised
  • Therapeutic games
  • Clinical supervision
  • Treatment companion
    • SnowWorld – for burn victims; immersive exploration of snowy landscape
  • Treatment tool
    • SpiderWorld – for arachnophobia; mixed reality, virtual kitchen, gradual encounters
  • Picture:
  • “Edutainment”? – much hype, mixed reactions
  • Special considerations – expense, perceptions, available hardware
  • Lexia Cross-Trainer – for students at various levels; strengthen thinking, memory, problem-solving skills
  • Increasing consumer interest
  • Picture:
corporate training
Corporate Training
  • Large companies = large budget for training
  • Traditional tools (seminars, company videos and handbooks)
    • Already established, lower cost, effectiveness
  • Serious games
    • Implementation costs, increased interest and effectiveness, performance measurement
  • “At least 100 of the global Fortune 500 will use gaming to educate their employees by 2012” (BusinessWeek)
social political issues
Social/Political Issues
  • Increase awareness of issues
  • Historical and current world events
  • May be objective or show a single perspective
    • Peacemaker – based on Israeli/Palestinian conflict; player can pick either side
    • UnderAsh/UnderSiege – uses Palestinian perspective; inspired by Palestinian experience and the number of U.S. games with Arab “bad guys”; Syria
    • America’s Army – Army recruiting tool; U.S.
  • Picture:
a force more powerful
A Force More Powerful
  • A Force More Powerful
  • (BreakAway Games)
  • International Center for

Non-Violent Conflict

  • Strategy game based on nonviolent conflict
  • Play out historical events (Gandhi & Indian independence, civil rights movement in the U.S., Serbian student resistance to Slobodan Milosevic)
  • More immersive; gain unique personal perspective on difficulties
  • Picture:
ibm s innov8
IBM’s Innov8
  • 3D game
  • Teaches Business Process Management
  • Develop skills in both business and information technology
  • Available free Nov. ’07; used by “more than 20 colleges and universities worldwide” (IBM)
  • IBM’s RoboCode (teaches coding) and CodeRally (teaches Java and Eclipse to Linux developers) (2003)
  • IBM’s PowerUp – free environmental game & lesson plans (2008)
  • "According to new IBM research which looked at technology, business and societal trends and issues, online videogames help people become better corporate leaders by fostering skills related to collaboration, self-organisation, risk-taking, openness, influence, and communications." (2007) (
characteristics of serious games
Characteristics of Serious Games
  • Emphasis on content accuracy
  • Need for developers with content expertise
  • Game design and techniques that take into account the serious content
  • Product mix - specialize or not
  • Investment required in research and development
  • (Bergeron, 21)
controversial games
Controversial Games
  • Some serious games push boundaries
  • Game format unpalatable to some
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG
    • Social commentary game and forum
  • Afghanistan and Iraq wars (ex: Kuma\War)
  • JFK Reloaded – recreation of JFK shooting; play role of Lee Harvey Oswald
unique challenges
Unique Challenges
  • Sensitive subjects
  • Industry interest
  • Retail interest
  • Consumer interest
  • Overcoming negative attitudes toward games and gamers
  • Skill set of expanded audience
industry recognition
Industry Recognition
  • The Serious Games Initiative - Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • E3 Media & Business Summit introduced a Serious Games showcase in 2006
  • I/ITSEC started “Serious Games Showcase & Challenge” in 2006; now in its third year, accepting submissions for I/ITSEC 2008 (Orlando)
  • Fifth annual Serious Games Summit at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on February 18-19, 2008
  • Developing Serious Games – Bryan Bergeron, Charles River Media, Hingham, Massachusetts, 2006.
  • Video Games Aren’t a Waste of Time - Preeta M. Banerjee, BusinessWeek, Feb. 19, 2008.
  • Innov8: IBM Introduces Video Game to Help University Students Develop Business Skills

  • Spot On: Games get political – Tom Leupold, GameSpot, Aug. 12. 2004
  • Sir, the Gamers Are Revolting! – Chris Kohler, Wired, 10/27/05,
  • I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase and Challenge
  • Syria launches Arab war game – Kim Ghattas, BBC News. May 31, 2002.
  • Serious Games Initiative - Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
  • Water Cooler Games –
  • IBM pushes game as learning tool for Linux admins - Jan Stafford. 23 Jun 2003.,289202,sid39_gci911209,00.html
  • IBM gets game – Keith Stuart. June 18, 2007. Guardian Unlimited.
  • Environmental Learning MMO Launched by IBM. Calin Ciabai, Softpedia. February 18, 2008.
homework questions
Homework Questions
  • 1. What is one application for serious games?
  • 2. Name a game/simulation industry conference that has included serious games.