Serious Games

Video games can teach us many things in a serious context. Some of these things include:

• Motor skills
• Spatial relationships
• Object recognition
• Procedural knowledge
• Mental models
• Creative thinking

There is some terminology in this area that is very difficult to define and may possibly, in itself, be an oxymoron.

1. "Serious Games" - A "Game" is very hard to define. Oxford dictionary defines it as:

"noun - an activity engaged in for amusement."

If games are for amusement how can one be serious?

There are a number of categories for Serious Games which are:

  • Educational
  • Public Policy
  • Political / Social
  • Health
  • Business
  • Military
  • Advergames
  • COTS (Commercial off the shelf)

The Bradley Trainer (1980)

A game called Battlezone by Atari was noticed by the American military who paid to have a new version created for training troops.

James Paul Gee


He has conducted research into using games for educational purposes, this is detailed in his book – “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy”. He is concerned with games and learning through doing and failure.

He started the Games Learning Society Group which is ran by the University of Wisconsin, it is involved with many different types of research into games and how they can be used to improve how we learn -

Suggested Reading

McFarlane, Angela. "Report on the educational use of games - Full report" (2001)

McFarlane, Angela. "Report on the educational use of games - Summary Report" (2001)

Prensky, Marc. “Fun, Play and Games: What Makes Games Engaging” (2001)

Chen, Sande. “Proof of Learning: Assessment in Serious Games” (2005)

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