Serious games

From Media Technology and Culture Change

Serious Games are games which intend to impart a meaningful social or educational impact on their participant through interactive play. These games are most commonly played digitally: on a computer or video game interface. Serious Games exist in all different genres. Commonly these games are centered around political, military, or marketing forums. A popular technique of Serious Games is to provide a simulation of an actual set of events, which then help the player become enlightened through the sense of participation within an environment. Serious Games are on the rise and will likely move more towards the mainstream as video and computer games are recognized more universally as powerful educational tools because of their ability to motivate action and stimulate learning through interactivity.

What makes serious games so powerful is that they incorporate immersion, transformation, and agency in such a way that sends a message to the player. This allows for gamers to enter a world they typically might know about, such as Darfur. So when a player becomes a kid searching for water, they get a sense (as minor as it is) of the difficulties in living in Darfur. Because serious games put a player within a world, they not only learn about a social crisis, they also feel a emotional response. They become connected to the people, when often connecting to them by watching television or movies does not have the same effect. Those mediums render an observation while serious games create a interaction which makes the game's message more powerful. Serious gatmes also make use of winning and losing, typical of most games. In the McDonald's game, your goal is to make money, and so you put pesticides in the agriculure, destroy the rainforest, corrupt politicians, and advertise for kids. When the player gets in this mindset, the greediness of McDonald's is revealed because they are willing to do anything to "win" the game. In another example, there is a serious game where you must shoot a missile at terrorists in the midst of a town of civilians. The idea is that when you shoot, you kill many civilians and then more terrorists appear. As the game notes, there is no winning or losing, you can shoot or do nothing. This game uses the conventional form of games, where there needs to be a sense of reward, to make a message about the war on terrorism and how there is no winning. This simple game illustrates that like the many political figures who want to win the war on terror, we want to win this game. Yet as the game shows, it's not that easy.


Examples of Serious Games