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.