When you think about a game the first thing that usually comes to mind is “fun!” Games that are created specifically for entertainment purposes are referred to as Casual games. This is a broad definition used in this case to define games that are not used for educational purposes, those games, games used for educational purposes are defined as Serious Games.
So what are Serious Games?
Serious Games are games that are developed for specific purpose other than entertainment. They are used so that players can gain knowledge or improve a skill from playing them. These games are used in setting such as schools, hospitals, corporations, and the military. Players of a Serious Game have an understanding that these games have a primary purpose other than entertainment.
“So what’s the difference between Gamification and a Serious Game?”
Great question. The difference between Gamification and a Serious Game is that Serious Games have actual game play and the objective is to teach something specific; were as Gamification doesn’t teach a skill. However, both Gamification and Serious Games do share one distinct similarity, and that is to engage the learner.
Benefits of Serious Games.
Interactive Realistic Environments. With sophisticated gaming software and computer hardware developing realistic environments for learners to interact with has become less of a challenge. Learners can interact with not only other players but with objects and characters within the game also. Feedback can be immediately be provided to the learners through visuals or audio. With this benefit of Serious Games learners will now learn by doing instead of having an instructor tell them how to do something. Serious Games also allow learners to train in otherwise inaccessible environments.
Financial Savings. Rent, utilities, equipment (purchase, maintenance and repair), travel, overhead, depreciation, insurance, wages, supplies and taxes are all expenses that institutions can reduce or eliminate by using Serious Games.
Real World Experience. Learners can experience situations similar to the ones that they will in real life after training. The interactive immersive environment affords learners this experience. Serious Games allow learners to learn skills one-by-one and apply them all in a “grand scenario” mirroring complex situation at work in which they have to apply several skills to resolve an issue.
Instant Feedback. Games can be designed to provide the learners with instant feedback. This is a great benefit of Serious Games, learners can be notified when they perform a task correctly or incorrectly. This type of learning can allow them the opportunity to retry the task until they perform it correctly.
Skills Retention. With the option to repeat a task over-and-over learners can improve skills. Repeating a task is the best way to master it. Zig Ziglar once stated: “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.”
Reduces Risks. Some jobs require individuals to be placed in dangerous situations. Training for these situations in real life can be a dangerous; Serious Games allows learners the ability to train for these situation while eliminating the risks of the environment. The military is a prime example of the use of Serious Games for training; they use simulations (a form of Serious Games) to train troops on how to operate in dangerous situations.
“What Did You Learn Today?”
Today we learned that Serious Games are great tools for learners to learn new skills and knowledge. In contrast to Gamification, Serious Games are used to teach a specific skill. Organizations can benefit from using Serious Games by decreasing costs and risks while simultaneously increasing skill retention. With the addition of game play and immersive Serious Games are the most ideal teaching method when teaching many skills. It is important to remember that as mentioned with the previous teaching methods that Serious Games are not the answer for all learning situations.