Serious games, estimated to be a US$1.5 - $9 billion global market in 2008, are being described by some analysts as the next wave of technology-mediated learning. A serious game, SG, may be a simulation which has the look and feel of a game, but corresponds to non-game events or processes, including business opportunities or operations.
SG's are intended to provide an engaging, self-reinforcing online experience designed to motivate and educate the player. Other purposes for such games include marketing and advertisement.
The largest users of SGs are the educational institutions, government and medical professionals. Other commercial sectors, especially those challenged to communicate a strong business case for action, are actively pursuing development of these types of tools as well.
What makes a game "serious" as opposed to one played for fun is serious games are focused on specific and intentional learning outcomes to achieve a measurable change in performance and behavior. It is not centered on entertainment or better performance in the game, but rather serious games influence and inform behaviors outside of the game experience.
SG's can be effective in several corporate areas. Here are some examples how games are being used successfully:
- Training and Learning: Games are being used for both high-level and detailed learning and training. In some applications, games introduce learners to topics at a high level, engaging them on the subject matter alone. Players are then encouraged to learn more via links to other training and information. Other types of serious games go deep and get very detailed on a subject or skill. These are often simulation-style games, where the focus is on teaching skills that can be immediately applied in the game, and on the job.
- Recruiting: Recruiting games take players through orientation, a simulated "typical day," and let's them interact with the organization before ever joining. Military recruitment games give a window into simulated boot camp.
- Marketing: Games have been used for marketing for some time. Some marketing groups are now experimenting with serious games - keeping the fun factor and marketing messages, but also educating consumers on products and services features and benefits.
SG's are expected to continue their growth over the next five years as more and more companies realize the power of smart interaction. Your challenge is to find a meaningful way to utilize this powerful option to engage, educate and motivate your target audiences.