Coined by Clark Abt (1970), the term “serious game” refers to a game whose primary purpose isn’t to entertain.
Serious games can be games for
- social good
Although serious games can have important impacts, this doesn’t mean that serious games can’t be fun. Well-designed serious games create a sense of play and experimentation.
In her talk for The School of Life, Jane McGonigal describes how games can change the world and increase our ability to flourish at the same time.
Gamification: Re-imagining the game layer
Part and parcel of the idea of serious games is the idea of “gamification” or using game dynamics and mechanics to increase engagement and desired behaviors. In this video, Seth Priebatsch reflects on the different types of game strategies used to influence behaviors.
For an interesting view of how some game designers are reacting to the hype surrounding the term “gamification,” read these comments to the question “Why are so many game developers opposed to gamification?”
I’m not a fan of gamification as a way to drive a revenue stream. For me, Farmville is not the epitome of gamification, or at least I hope it isn’t. Still, I think we can’t ignore gamification (done right) as a viable approach to educate and/or actually do some social good.
Some serious game resources
Some resources I’ve found during my investigations on serious games:
- Serious Games Initiative
- NASAGA (North American Simulation and Gaming Association)
- Ian Bogost – Water Cooler Games
- Serious Games Source
- Inside Social Games
- Social Games Studies
- Avant Game
- e-Clippings (Learning as Art)
Do you have any favorite resources?
Abt, C. (1970). Serious Games. New York: The Viking Press.