After Hours

There's a time for serious... but in a game?

I've heard of serious gamers and people who take their games seriously, but the term "serious games" is a new one for me. Before you think, "Is Sonja serious?" - take a look at this recent News.com story: "What's wrong with serious games?"

According to this article, "Serious games usually have a message promoting education, science, health care, or even the military. They're meant to educate people by simulating real-world events and are often created with the best of intentions." 

So, what's wrong with serious games? A panel at the Serious Games Summit tackled this question, and here are a few of their thoughts for fodder:

  • "...education, science, and health care aren't exactly the stuff of exciting entertainment, let alone video games."
  • "...the genre has not produced a particularly large library of finished games, or much in the way of revenue or profits."
  • "...much of the serious-games genre is aimed, in one way or another, at government-funded institutions such as schools or the military. But the government is often skeptical about projects that have abstract goals such as furthering education or teaching military tactics..."
  • "...serious-game developers have not arrived at any easily measurable standards for growth and success..."
  • "...a lack of commitment to strong game design principles in the genre."

Do you think serious games have potential to seriously grow in the gaming industry? Part of me would certainly like to think "YES!!" but the other (read = realistic) part says, "Let's face it - educational material isn't ordinarily as appealing as mindless stimuli." Seriously.

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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