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The Serious Business of Serious Games

What goes inside your mind when you heard the word ‘game’? We bet it is something that has to do with fun and amusing kind of activity, as well as having no serious impression. Well, that is not entirely wrong. Most people see games as a form of entertainment that generates happiness and gives no maleficent aftermath.

However, did you know that there is a serious side of games? Serious as it can be used not only for entertainment purpose, but also for education, employee training, engineering, health, city planning, politic, and national defence purpose? That side of the game is called Serious Game, and it is a serious business. Before we talk more about what actually serious game is, let’s get into the surface, shall we?

 

The humble beginning

Serious games are kind of game which goal is not only for entertainment, but can also be used for facilitating the work in various fields such as education, employee training, engineering, health, and much more. Serious games had been implemented since 1960’s where education paper-based game had become popular in that era.

At the beginning of 2000’s, serious games have a lot of varieties and only marketed to children and teens to help them learn. In 1999, a technology company, LeapFrog Enterprises introduced LeapPad. It was a breakthrough technology that combined the interactive book with cartridge system where children could play games and interact with the paper-based book. LeapPad combined serious game that had been implemented in the past with the current technology. This game generated well selling-number in the market and became the forerunner of the serious game in the modern era.

Along with the growth of video game industry in the 2010’s, serious games began to look upon by companies to make training easier and fun. According to Market and Markets, it is estimated the serious game sector will grow between 2015 and 2020 at an average annual rate of 16.38%, which means the business will reach 5.449 billion dollars by 2020. Nobody has expected before that the humble beginning of serious games—from only paper-based, basic technology, now become a serious business like it is today.

 

The early generation of LeapPad as the forerunner of the serious game. Image via source

 

The example of implementation

One of the most well-known of serious games is a leadership based game namely Pacific. The game tells a story about a team on a humanitarian mission when suddenly their plane crashed, and they are trapped on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The game objective is to lead their team while they build a hot-air balloon so that they can escape from the island and return home. To do this, players have to learn all the virtues of a good leader and team management, including motivating and rewarding their colleagues, resolving conflicts, delegating tasks or coaching team member. All the skill-set that is needed in the game are important in every company to make a good employee. Pacific has the ability to create leadership training more fun and make people more engaged to this topic.

Another example of a serious game is a medical training-based game called Pulse!!. Pulse!! was created by Doug Whatley, CEO of Breakaway Games, and Dr. Claudia Johnston of Texas A&M. Individuals—usually medical students, take on the role of a physician or nurse and play through scenarios as one would in an entertainment purpose game. Pulse!! can change the perception of complex medical training to easy-to-understand medical training.

 

Pacific game nurtures leadership and conflict resolving and is usually being utilized in leadership training. Image via source

 

The practical benefit

  1. Improve Engagement and Motivation

Human love playing games and it is proven by a Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga with his book titled Homo Ludens. The book highlights the importance of the play element of culture and society which suggesting its characteristic as primary and necessary. Based on his theory, we know that human love playing games and feel amused after they play it. The same thing also happens with the serious game. Serious games generate engagement with the certain topic as people get caught up in the fun no matter how complex the topic is. People also feel motivated when as they can receive some rewards after they can accomplish something.

  1. Facilitate the memorization and the retention of knowledge

Teaching material that is full of words without illustrations can be unappealing somehow that it would make students instantly forget the material that had just been taught. With serious games chances are, students will always remember what they learn since it is unconsciously rendered in a non-monotonous way. Further added, the visualizations are also more likely to help student responding better.

  1. Reduce training cost and direct risk effectively

Employees who are still in training actually entitled to have more risks, especially for those who are just starting and instantly placed in the field. For example, a new cashier that is only being employed would need more time to get used to whatever they learnt at the training. This might spark some disputes on handling customer real time. Another study case might be if you conduct a construction training which usually requires sites and heavy tools. Those, not only would cost a lot, also give higher live risk to the trainee. To avoid this issue, serious games can be a solution to minimize the risk that could harm the company and the employee. For the on-site trainee, the company can utilize mobile-based serious games while for the construction trainee, a virtual simulation training will deliver the same proper training.

 

VR Crane Simulation developed by Agate being exhibited in IHRS 2017

 

Serious games are important to the business as a medium for people to understand a certain topic or training fluently. Since it is enhanced with the gaming element, It fulfils people’s desire for their love of playing. As we reach their attention and engagement, the knowledge retention will likely to have more adhered without too much of a hard effort. So do you dare to join the fun side of serious games?