Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Games: SERIOUS BUSINESS

10:42 AM on 06.28.2007 // Leigh Alexander

Slate just pubbed a piece about the whole "serious games" phenomenon. If you haven't heard, the serious gaming concept refers to games whose primary purpose isn't fun.

A game that isn't fun? Good luck with that.

Seriously, though, a lot of different groups -- philanthropists, business dudes, educators and academics, for example -- see a lot of potential in the idea of using games to effectively educate audiences about SERIOUS ISSUES, communicate ideas, and promote action. 

As the Slate piece highlights, though, there're some issues with the concept; hit the jump to read more.

Socially-minded, responsible folk have sorta just now realized that games are totally awesome, and are trying to snag the medium for their own boring, boring purpose. The result? We've got a lot of people conceptualizing and making games who don't know anything about gaming, and drab educational simulators that are so serious it hurts (yes, there is a Darfur simulator). In these kinds of situations everybody loses -- gaming is uncomfortable in the upstanding, responsible monkey suit (after all, isn't half of gaming figuring out what the rules are so you can break 'em?) and the cause isn't helped by a tacky game that's just NOT FUN.

I'm gonna play Devil's advocate against the Slate piece, though -- I went to the Games for Change festival and covered it for Gamasutra earlier this month, and got to hear a lot of panels with some very smart people on both sides of the argument. You can check out my coverage if you're really interested in all the nuts-and-bolts, but the basic idea is that you can learn something from a game -- without sucking the life out of gaming.

I know my world capitals to this day because of Carmen Sandiego. Anyone else? And let's not forget Oregon Trail, the game that taught us all what dysentery is. By killing us with it. Repeatedly. What fun!

Chances are, though, the games that taught you something weren't necessarily trying to. Is it so unreasonable, for example, to posit that younger kids could incidentally get a better idea of the basic idea of financial management, or work-life balance, from playing The Sims? I mean, I learned all about government from Metal Gear. That whole thing about the Patriots? I had no idea! Seriously, though, I bet we've all got a story about how some element of a game -- let's say a real historical figure as a character -- led us to be a little more interested in a given time period, maybe look up the real-life person on Wikipedia. 

And that's really all these "serious" games are aiming to do -- they want to motivate you to do something with the concept when you're done playing. Whether it's that you're aware of a world issue that you didn't think of before, and happen to mention it to someone else in conversation, or strike out to learn more about an element from the game on your own -- if the game motivates you to think of, feel, or do something new, then it's considered a success. And games do that for us all the time already. They don't need to be all sleepy educational schlock. 

And pretty soon, socially-conscious gaming could be coming right to your living room. Microsoft teamed up with Games For Change to make the XNA Express software available to student developers, who can enter their creations in a year-long competition to see who can make the best global warming game. The winners might even make it onto Xbox Live Arcade.

None of us want to see Mr. Business Dork ruin gaming. But I think these groups can continue looking at how to use gaming to spread information or engage people on new ideas -- as long as they remember that they're games. As in, things you play. Y'know -- fun. 



Leigh Alexander,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Every time Nekro changes his avatar, God lets a child in a third-world country starve to death. When will the killing stop, Nekro?
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Undertale ending in anime version (don't watch it if you have not played it yet) !
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Pixie isn't my abfave demon, but this cosplay is hhnnggalicious
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
El Dango avatarEl Dango
What if the 'OOSE' thing in the new Bourne poster is deliberate? What if it's like the bad guy or something?
drmcscott avatardrmcscott
No more night Xcom. Cant sleep. No more night Xcom. Cant sleep. WOrk perofmence bad. No moe night Xconm. Nad. Cmat sleep. Hep me! HJkelp me!
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
SMT demons, huh? There's really only one choice.
Malthor avatarMalthor
One of my favourite demons from SMT is Samael, his death magic and Megido spell are always a great help( Megido especially made him the bane of golden hands in my last P4 playthrough). Plus he looks pretty badass.
FakePlasticTree avatarFakePlasticTree
Favorite demon in Shin Megami Tensei, eh? Oh, I got many but so I'll just pick one for now whom is a beast in the Persona series. Yoshitsune--Hassou Tobi, Heat Riser = Don't fear the REAPER!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Played half an hour of Last Story. Yay, British voices! But the absence of colours makes me want to play other games instead, especially in this greyscale season.
HeyItsDad avatarHeyItsDad
There's not even enough reviews out to give Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth a rating on Metacritic...what's up with this?
ooktar avatarooktar
Dat Booty.
ooktar avatarooktar
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Just came across someone who tried to debate that people don't hate change - They hate BAD change - Ahahahahahahah!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I miss Crash and Spyro. They had a fantastic trilogy on the ps1 and I loved every minute of it. Here's one of my favorite Spyro tracks, why not post one of your favorite tracks from wither of these great games.
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
Many thanks to a pal from time immemorial for his sneaky late birthday present to me of a digital Amazon gift card, which I promptly redeemed for this alluring beaut. Cheers! Viva la PS Vita~ [img]http://i.imgur.com/Cx3fPPb.png[/img]
Parismio avatarParismio
So I played xcom eu last night to get that xcom hype back. Half hour ago I already lost my brother, my best friends and my dog. Its been a stressful evening.
Nick R P Green avatarNick R P Green
Asides from a last proof read and any final edits, the script for my final 2015 reflection video is now complete. I will see this through to its conclusion. There'll be a blog version as always and once it's done and over with, I'll finally update my bio!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Gore Magala set complete! That only took like 15 or 16 tries!
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
AT LAST, THE FOUL SEEDS OF RAGE BORN FROM THE WITHERED PLANT OF LOVE BREAK THROUGH THE EARTHS CRUST TO GIVE RISE TO A HARVEST OF RAGE. A NEW BLOG WILL BE THE GRAIN AND THE BREAD, TO FEED THE GNAWING HUNGER OF HATRED ALL VITA LOVERS HARBOR.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -