Serious game

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A serious game or applied game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. [1] The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to video games used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, and politics. [2] Serious games are a subgenre of serious storytelling, where storytelling is applied "outside the context of entertainment, where the narration progresses as a sequence of patterns impressive in quality ... and is part of a thoughtful progress". [3] The idea shares aspects with simulation generally, including flight simulation and medical simulation, but explicitly emphasizes the added pedagogical value of fun and competition [ citation needed ].



The use of games in educational circles has been practiced since at least the twentieth century. Use of paper-based educational games became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but waned under the Back to Basics teaching movement. [4] (The Back to Basics teaching movement is a change in teaching style that started in the 1970s when students were scoring poorly on standardized tests and exploring too many electives. This movement wanted to focus students on reading, writing and arithmetic and intensify the curriculum. [5] ) Clark C. Abt is credited for coining the term "serious game" in the 1970s, defined as "games have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement." Abt also recognized that this "does not mean that serious games are not, or should not be, entertaining." [6]

Serious games talk Christoph K. Weidner auf der re publica 2011 (5618301751).jpg
Serious games talk

The early 2000s saw a surge in different types of educational games, especially those designed for the younger learner. Many of these games were not computer-based but took on the model of other traditional gaming systems both in the console and hand-held formats. In 1999, LeapFrog Enterprises introduced the LeapPad, which combined an interactive book with a cartridge and allowed kids to play games and interact with a paper-based book. Based on the popularity of traditional hand-held gaming systems like Nintendo's Game Boy, they also introduced their hand-held gaming system called the Leapster in 2003. This system was cartridge-based and integrated arcade–style games with educational content. [7]

Also in the 2000s, educational games saw an expanse into sustainable development with titles such as Learning Sustainable Development in 2000 and Climate Challenge in 2006. [8]

Other directions for serious video games beyond education began to emerge in the early 2000s, with America's Army in 2002 as an early example. The game was a first-person shooter developed by the United States Army as a recruitment tool, and later used as an early training tool for new recruits. [9]

University institute of Serious Games CU-SeriousGamesInstitute.JPG
University institute of Serious Games

By 2010, serious games had evolved to incorporate actual economies[ citation needed ] like Second Life , in which users can create actual businesses that provide virtual commodities and services for Linden dollars, which are exchangeable for US currency. In 2015, Project Discovery was launched as a serious game. Project Discovery was launched as a vehicle by which geneticists and astronomers with the University of Geneva could access the cataloging efforts of the gaming public via a mini-game contained within the Eve Online massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Players acting as citizen scientists categorize and assess actual genetic samples or astronomical data. This data was then utilized and warehoused by researchers. Any data flagged as atypical was further investigated by scientists.



On the one hand, the health sector includes digital games for the professional area of doctor training, e.g. to train an operation or to impart specialist knowledge, and on the other hand they address the private end user who uses them, for example, as motivation tools for a healthier lifestyle, nutrition or for rehabilitation purposes. In addition, Serious Games can be used as a training measure for patients who acquire knowledge about their clinical pictures and possible therapy options.[ citation needed ] There is also an increasing use of serious games in health education programs. [10]

On 15 June 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first video game treatment, a game for children aged 8–12 with certain types of ADHD called EndeavorRx. It can be downloaded with a prescription onto a mobile device, and is intended for use in tandem with other treatments. Patients play it for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, over a month-long treatment plan. [11]

Scientific Tool

In 2021, researcher Dr. Heather R. Campbell at the University of Kentucky published Towards a Holistic Risk Model For Safeguarding the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Capturing the Human-Induced Risk to Drug Quality [12] . In this work, Campbell developed a virtual pharmaceutical manufacturing plant and used videos games flexibility to develop various real-life scenarios. The scenarios were then played by humans under different motivating objectives through a series of experiments. The results allowed Campbell to gather useful information on what might be the next threat to the pharmaceutical supply chain. The results showed promise for video games' future as a scientific data collection tool and was featured in a Bloomberg Prognosis Article [13] .

Exercise therapy

These include serious games that animate the player to sport and movement. For example, hand-eye coordination and upper body muscles can be trained using Wii Sports , regardless of age and physical disabilities, alone or with others. Even simple Jump-'n'-Run games can have an educational purpose, depending on the user. They are partly used in rehabilitation therapies to restore the user's finger mobility, reaction speed and eye-finger coordination. [14]

Politics, culture and advertising

Persuasive games are developed for advertisers, policy makers, news organizations and cultural institutions. They are politically and socially motivated games that serve social communication. They cover areas such as politics, religion, environment, urban planning and tourism. The aim is to lead to create a demand for product due to a generated positive exposure to the product in the game or introduce new ways of thinking through experience.


Serious games in the field of security are aimed at disaster control, the defense sector and recruitment. Public, private and municipal institutions, such as fire brigades, police, Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Technisches Hilfswerk - Germany THW), DRK as well as crisis centres and NGOs benefit from them. Scenarios such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, danger prevention and emergency care are simulated. Challenges such as acting under time and pressure to succeed can thus be realistically tested with fewer resources and costs. This area formed the second focal point. An example of serious games from this sector is the Emergency game series or the possibility to explore the response of communities in a game in disaster management. Psychological effect that exist in real life-threatening situation are not realistic in a serious game but the training in a serious game and exposure to the requirements and constraints in disaster management can prepare to a better response of the teams in a real disaster management case and lead to an improved risk mitigation strategies.

Military games

Games like America's Army are training simulations that are used in the training and recruitment of soldiers. The games try to represent warfare as realistically as possible in order to familiarize users with the dangers, strategies, weapons, tactics and vehicles.

Recruitment games

This type of serious games is intended to bring the user closer to tasks that would otherwise be less in the limelight. Companies try to present and profile themselves through such games in order to attract apprentices and applicants. Future tasks will be presented and carried out in a large context, for example "TechForce", in which various technical areas are combined into an end product with the aim of winning a race.

Product creation games

The aim here is to give the user an understanding of a company's products. The user can test the products in a simulation under real conditions and convince himself of their functionality. Technical basics, handling and security risks can be taught to the user.

Adult education

Real simulations and simulation games provide the user with the opportunity to gain experience. Actions generated from knowledge can be tested here according to the trial and error principle. Theoretical knowledge can either be acquired beforehand or imparted during the game, which can then be tested in a virtual practice. There is an educational policy interest in the professionalisation of such offers. With the research project NetEnquiry, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports a corresponding research project for education and training, implemented here with the focus on mobile learning. [15] In addition, there is an increasing incorporation of serious games within university curricula which students can use to consolidate learning or enhance knowledge. [16]

Youth education

The user is given tasks and missions that they can only solve with the knowledge that they will gradually discover during the game. The theoretical aspects of the game are always taught in small quantities at the right time to be able to solve the next task and thus test the theoretical approaches in practice.

Art games

An art game uses the medium of computer games to create interactive and multimedia art. For the first time, the term was described scientifically in 2002 to emphasize games that attach more importance to art than to game mechanics. Mostly they convince by a special aesthetics and atmosphere and use the interactivity for creativity and the thought stimulation of the player. Art created by or through computer games are also called art games. [17] [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Multimedia is a form of communication that combines different content forms such as text, audio, images, animations, or video into a single interactive presentation, in contrast to traditional mass media which featured little to no interaction from users, such as printed material or audio recordings. Popular examples of multimedia include video podcasts, audio slideshows and Animated videos.

Simulation Imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time

A simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. Simulations require the use of models; the model represents the key characteristics or behaviors of the selected system or process, whereas the simulation represents the evolution of the model over time. Often, computers are used to execute the simulation.

Educational games are games explicitly designed with educational purposes, or which have incidental or secondary educational value. All types of games may be used in an educational environment, however educational games are games that are designed to help people learn about certain subjects, expand concepts, reinforce development, understand a historical event or culture, or assist them in learning a skill as they play. Game types include board, card, and video games.

Educational technology is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. When referred to with its abbreviation, EdTech, it is often referring to the industry of companies that create educational technology.

The term virtual patient is used to describe interactive computer simulations used in health care education. The special focus is targeted on the simulation of clinical processes with virtual patients. Virtual patients combine scientific excellence, modern technologies and the innovative concept of game-based learning. Virtual patients allow the learner to take the role of a health care professional and develop clinical skills such as making diagnoses and therapeutic decisions. Virtual patients have also been considered computer-based simulations designed to complement clinical training. The use of virtual patient programmes is increasing in healthcare, partly in response to increasing demands on health care professionals and education of students but also because they allow opportunity for students to practice in a safe environment. There are many different formats a virtual patient may take. However the overarching principle is that of interactivity—a virtual patient will have mechanisms for the learner to interact with the case and material or information is made available to the learner as they complete a range of learning activities. Interactivity is often included with questions, specific decision-making tasks, text-composition etc. and is non-sequential. Most systems provide quantitative and qualitative feedback.

Virtual Heroes, Inc. is a developer of serious games in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. It was founded in 2004.

Educational video game Video game genre

An educational video game is a video game that provides learning or training value to the player. Edutainment describes an intentional merger of video games and educational software into a single product. In the narrower sense used here, the term describes educational software which is primarily about entertainment, but tends to educate as well and sells itself partly under the educational umbrella. Normally software of this kind is not structured towards school curricula and does not involve educational advisors.

Agora Center One of the Jyväskylä University institute, Finland

The Agora Center is a separate institute at the University of Jyväskylä in Central Finland. By its nature, the Agora Center is interdisciplinary and networked. Its purpose is to conduct, coordinate, and administrate top-level research and development that relates to the knowledge society and which places emphasis on the human perspective. The research and development is conducted in the form of fixed-period projects in cooperation with the University of Jyväskylä’s other faculties and separate institutes, businesses, the public sector and other relevant parties. The Agora Center also promotes researcher training through its various research projects. One of the core missions of the Agora Center is to effectively combine research and development with education. The project staff includes a high number of students and post-graduate students.

Medical simulation

Medical simulation, or more broadly, healthcare simulation, is a branch of simulation related to education and training in medical fields of various industries. Simulations can be held in the classroom, in situational environments, or in spaces built specifically for simulation practice. It can involve simulated human patients – artificial, human or a combination of the two, educational documents with detailed simulated animations, casualty assessment in homeland security and military situations, emergency response, and support virtual health functions with holographic simulation. In the past, its main purpose was to train medical professionals to reduce error during surgery, prescription, crisis interventions, and general practice. Combined with methods in debriefing, it is now also used to train students in anatomy, physiology, and communication during their schooling.

An instructional simulation, also called an educational simulation, is a simulation of some type of reality but which also includes instructional elements that help a learner explore, navigate or obtain more information about that system or environment that cannot generally be acquired from mere experimentation. Instructional simulations are typically goal oriented and focus learners on specific facts, concepts, or applications of the system or environment. Today, most universities make lifelong learning possible by offering a virtual learning environment (VLE). Not only can users access learning at different times in their lives, but they can also immerse themselves in learning without physically moving to a learning facility, or interact face to face with an instructor in real time. Such VLEs vary widely in interactivity and scope. For example, there are virtual classes, virtual labs, virtual programs, virtual library, virtual training, etc. Researchers have classified VLE in 4 types:

Business game refers to simulation games that are used as an educational tool for teaching business. Business games may be carried out for various business training such as: general management, finance, organizational behavior, human resources, etc. Often, the term "business simulation" is used with the same meaning.

Gamification is the strategic attempt to enhance systems, services, organizations, and activities in order to create similar experiences to those experienced when playing games in order to motivate and engage users. This is generally accomplished through the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

A surgery simulator is computer technology developed to simulate surgical procedures for the purpose of training medical professionals, without the need of a patient, cadaver or animal. The concept goes back to the 1980s with video games, but only in the 1990s with three-dimensional graphics and the 2000s with the use of motion sensors for realistic movements has the technology been able to simulate the real situation. The most common type of surgery taught through this method is laparoscopic surgery, although it has also been used to do a trial run before other kinds of procedures. Cataract surgery and other ophthalmic procedures are also widely taught using surgical simulators.

Gamification of learning

The gamification of learning is an educational approach that seeks to motivate students by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement by capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning. Gamification, broadly defined, is the process of defining the elements which comprise games, make those games fun, and motivate players to continue playing, then using those same elements in a non-game context to influence behavior. In other words, gamification is the introduction of game elements into a traditionally non-game situation.

Games and learning is a field of education research that studies what is learned by playing video games, and how the design principles, data and communities of video game play can be used to develop new learning environments. Video games create new social and cultural worlds – worlds that help people learn by integrating thinking, social interaction, and technology, all in service of doing things they care about. Computers and other technologies have already changed the way students learn. Integrating games into education has the potential to create new and more powerful ways to learn in schools, communities and workplaces. Games and learning researchers study how the social and collaborative aspects of video game play can create new kinds of learning communities. Researchers also study how the data generated by game play can be used to design the next generation of learning assessments.

Marketing simulation games provide participants with an interactive method of testing out marketing decisions in an environment which is virtual or which has game characteristics. Common game topics belong to categories such as: marketing strategy, product positioning, pricing strategies, consumer behaviour. Marketing games usually focus on the marketing landscape of a certain business industry or a company. A marketing simulation game usually contains a number of scenarios and provides participants with results in response to their decisions.

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer application which allows users to experience immersive, three dimensional visual and audio simulations. According to Pinho (2004), virtual reality is characterized by immersion in the 3D world, interaction with virtual objects, and involvement in exploring the virtual environment. The feasibility of the virtual reality in education has been debated due to several obstacles such as affordability of VR software and hardware. The psychological effects of virtual reality are also a negative consideration. However, recent technological progress has made VR more viable and promise new learning models and styles for students. These facets of virtual reality have found applications within the primary education sphere in enhancing student learning, increasing engagement, and creating new opportunities for addressing learning preferences.

Virtual reality applications Overview of the various applications that make use of virtual reality

Virtual reality applications are applications that make use of virtual reality (VR), an immersive sensory experience that digitally simulates a virtual environment. Applications have been developed in a variety of domains, such as education, architectural and urban design, digital marketing and activism, engineering and robotics, entertainment, virtual communities, fine arts, healthcare and clinical therapies, heritage and archaeology, occupational safety, social science and psychology.

Immersive learning is a learning method which students being immersed into a virtual dialogue, the feeling of presence is used as an evidence of getting immersed. The virtual dialogue can be created by two ways, the usage of virtual technics, and the narrative like reading a book. The motivations of using virtual reality (VR) for teaching contain: learning efficiency, time problems, physical inaccessibility, limits due to a dangerous situation and ethical problems.

Virtual reality is the creation of a three-dimensional, interactive environment. With this technology, users are able to move through this developed simulation, as if it is real.


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  15. project page Netenquiry. Website of the project coordinator cevet - centre for vocational education and training. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
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  17. Holmes, Tiffany. "Arcade Classics Spawn Art? Current Trends in the Art Game Genre" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
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Further reading