Microsoft Gets On The Serious Games Bandwagon

January 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Gaming, virtual worlds | 1 Comment

Who said games have to be fun?  Not the serious gaming community.  Serious games are like “fun” games in that actors select outcomes and observe responses based on a set of inputs and rules.  This applies whether you’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em or testing military strategies.  But serious games use common gaming conventions for training or scenario assessment rather than pure enjoyment.  Don’t confuse serious games with educational games which are supposed to make learning fun, disguising education by embedding it in a context that usually means enjoyment.  Serious games have serious purposes, such as studying the spread of infectious diseases, disaster preparedness, and planning military operations.

Or flying a plane.  A recent example of this is Microsoft ESP, a version of their Flight Simulator game that’s been customized and marketed for non-gaming applications.  It has been in beta for a while, but it seems the site just went live after New Year’s.  Their data sheet describes it this way:

Microsoft® ESP™ is a visual simulation platform that brings immersive games-based technology to training and learning, decision support, and research and development modeling for government and commercial organizations.

Virtual worlds (which I’ve written about many times before in this blog) are providing the infrastructure for many serious games.  I think we’re just seeing the beginning of organizations beyond the military and public service segments starting to take serious games seriously.

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  1. No reason games can’t be educational and fun. Games in general are all about building skills, so any game is by definition educational.

    Raph Koster has a lot to say about this: http://www.theoryoffun.com/theoryoffun.pdf

    After all, if you’re playing Madden Football ’08, you’re learning about plays and the strategy of the sport, right? So even if you’ve never been out on a real field in your life you’ll still kick ass compared to people who have never even played Madden’08.


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