Understanding “Serious” Games Jonathan Frye, Ed. S. New York University Essential Game Elements • Huizinga (1950) • Free activity, outside “ordinary” life, not “serious” • Absorbs the player • No material interest or profit • Distinct Boundaries of time and space • Caillois (1961) • Free (voluntary), separate (time and space) • uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe • Salen and Zimmerman (2003) • A system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome Definition serious games • Bergeron, (2006): “a serious game is an interactive computer application, with or without a significant hardware component, that: has a challenging goal, is fun to play and/or engaging, incorporates some concept of scoring, and imparts to the user a skill, knowledge, or attitude that can be applied in the real world.” (pg. xvii) Advantages of Games • Motivation/Engagement • Interactivity • Mechanic is the Learning • To beat the game is to learn the message/skill • But only when done right, very difficult • Beyond content to problem solving/systems learning • Adaptive to the Learner • Real-Time Assessment • Analytics/Data/Log Files Simulations and Games • Squire (2003) examples of uses: • manipulate otherwise unalterable variables • enable students to view phenomena from new perspectives • observe systems behavior over time • pose hypothetical questions to a system • visualize a system in three dimensions • compare simulations with their understanding of the system (p. 5) Goals of Serious Games • Flow (Csikszentmihalyi) • Balancing challenge • • • • Scaffolding “Transfer” Knowledge System Understanding Attitude/behavior change Taxonomy of Serious Games (Sawyer & Smith, 2008) Sectors (Sawyer & Smith, 2008) • Government & NGO: • Defense: • Ex. America’s Army, Skills based training • Healthcare: • Ex. Surgery Simulations, Check-up routines • Marketing and Communication: • Ex. Product placement, use of company characters Sectors cont. (Sawyer & Smith, 2008) • Education • Ex. Math, Science, current events etc. • Corporate: • Ex. Training, continuing education, company policy • Industry • Ex. Training, Skills acquisition Uses • • • • • • • Learning & Education Health Sciences Advertising Training Science and Research Art/Statement Journalism Sawyer & Smith, 2008 Learning & Education • Any subject you can imagine • History/Context, ex. Quest Atlantis, Civilization Series • Math, ex. Dimenxion M, Lure of the Labyrinth • Physics, ex. Waker, Crayon Physics • Biology, ex. Beetle Readers Health Sciences • Training/Practice for aspiring doctors and nurses • Ex. Conducting an exam; the steps involved in surgery • Uses with Patients • Psychological/Physical Therapy • Education • Ex. Re-Mission Advertising • “Advergames” • Using product themes and characters in games • Product placement within a game (similar to in movies) Training • Often about learning tasks, policies, or skill acquisition • Employee • Military • Ex. Situational Awareness training • Ex. America’s Army Science and Research • Ex. Military research using simulated environments • Ex. Sharkrunners Art/Statement • Art • Brenda Brathwaite’s “Mechanic is the Message Series” • One Falls for Each of Us • Train • Statement • Games for Change.org • Human Rights, Economics, Public Policy, Public Health, Poverty, Environment, Global Health, News, Politics Games for Change • Ayiti • Manage a rural family in Haiti • • • • Darfur is Dying Budget Hero Climate Challenge Peacemaker • Conflict in the Middle East News/Journalism • Newsgames (Bogost et al., 2010) • Ex. September 12th Class activity • Get into groups of 2-3 and play a game from the GamesforChange.org website • Topics to discuss/think about: • What is the learning objective? • Is it part of the mechanic? • How would you assess learning? • Is the game engaging? • How could the design/mechanic be improved?