Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Serious Gaming...Why People Don't Get It

In my past job I worked a little bit and thought a lot about Serious Gaming. Here is a quick rant for today about that. I think the the Holy Grail for Serious Games is not about learning reinforcement. As I told my former boss today.

"The game should be the textbook."

I think there are different markets for different serious games. Ultimately the more serious the game, the less free time your target audience tends to have. Tacking on a game or a simulation as an extra task isn't going to be well received and almost always doomed to failure. However, if a game or simulation is subtractive rather then additive, that is where user acceptance will go up. What do I mean?

Typically training involves learning a competency, and then practicing that competency. If you think about it, that is all games do. You learn a competency, say how to zap an alien, and then you exercise that competency continously.

So, often Serious Games focus on exercise and reinforcement of a competency. Unfortunately, no one really trust Serious Games enough to have them fully replace other traditional methods of competency learning and practice. So Serious Games, often at this point poorly implemented, give users a new task without reducing their over all training work load. This is bad.

What needs to happen is Serious Games need to become good enough so that they subtract from traditional training method work loads. In academia, Serious Games need to replace text books. In corporation, Serious Games need to replace conferences and training pamphlets.

Then Serious Gaming will have arrived.


Richard Sheehy said...

I agree completely. The challenge will be to convince management and administration that serious games can teach as effectively, if not more effectively, than traditional classrooms or textbooks.

From the learner's point of view the challenge is how to make the game interesting enough that it keeps their attention while keeping it effective enough to shorten the time it takes to learn the skills.

Thanks for the post and keep pushing the cause.


infocyde said...

Thanks for your post, I didn't know anyone read my blog :) Glag do see someone in the serious gaming industry took my comments to heart. I'll keep the up the cause, but my path to get into serious gaming again will probably be a long one.