Do serious games developers ignore mainstream videogames?

Those interested in serious games have long been preoccupied with defining serious games themselves, and the outcomes are rarely illuminating. On his member blog at Gamasutra, Raymond Ortgiesen criticizes the term ‘serious games’ but also goes on to bemoan serious games developers’ tendencies to ignore the progress made in traditional videogames in terms of immersion and player engagement.

Didn’t Far Cry 2 touch on the poverty and power struggles in  Africa? Didn’t Bioshock try to challenge our notions of freedom (“A man chooses, a slave obeys”)? And how many countless games have been satirical but serious critiques of western society (Fallout, Grand Theft Auto)? Now, those games aren’t perfect. They haven’t all even accomplished what they set out to do, necessarily. But they try and they becoming more potent with each iteration. Why aren’t they called serious games?

Ortgiesen argues that serious games developers should take the current crop of videogames as their starting point, rather than reinventing the wheel – and he also notes that ‘It’s not as if the “serious games” crowd has a large repertoire of successes to claim either’. While I agree with this in principle, the fact that publishers see little demand for big-budget educational games means that serious games developers have far more limited resources. And while Far Cry 2 and Bioshock lay a strong claim to provoke intellectual discussion, I’d say that the concepts presented in these games are more a narrative framework rather than a thesis or a selection of facts and skills for the player to absorb.

Similarly, an analogy to film and literature isn’t ideal – whereas Schindler’s List could be described as a more serious or more educational film than Die Hard, is it really a more comprehensive visual treatment of its subject matter than a BBC documentary about WWII? However, I sympathise with Ortgiesen’s argument that the ‘serious game’ term ‘does nothing except erect a big wall between developers who are trying to accomplish the same goal’, and perhaps the best way for a developer to create a mainstream educational game is to not label it as such.

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2 Responses

  1. The Serious Game is a new form of games
    This sort of games offer not only fun like most of the games but also learning and training value the player learn how to deal whit real life situation
    Many university and first class companies already use the serious business games as a tool for training their mangers, employs and B.a students
    You can play these game online and offline
    If you like business games you can register to the beat version of The CEO Game

  2. There is an underlying moral aspect of serious games that differentiate them from video games. A video game cannot be packaged as educational due to a conditioned disassociation between learning and fun instilled by the school system. The resulting serious games reduce the guilt of enjoying a learning experience.

    For more on this: http://wp.me/ptcfd-1l

    Aminhotep

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