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Serious games are a category of video games with specific educational goals. Their objective is to use the playful aspect of games to increase participant motivation. Learning is therefore made more effective by combining pedagogy and game design.


The ancestors of serious games appeared during the 19th century in the military field as “wargames” designed to train officers on topics such as strategy and combat tactics. More recently, the increased presence of computers in the office and at home as enabled the development of many serious games handling a variety of themes. The first examples date back to the 70’s and 80’s, with games such as The Oregon Trail or Sim City.


With the arrival in recent years of « digital natives », used to playing video games and to interacting with digital solutions since their childhood, using serious games for teaching is not only easier, but strongly recommended. This group of people seems to find traditional ways of teaching increasingly challenging and poorly adapted to their lifestyle. Several researchers, such as T. Asakawa and N. Gilbert, argue that this new generation has developed a “cognitive style characterised by multi-tasked learning, a short attention span and a learning strategy based on exploration and discovery.”


Serious games therefore rely on such changes to evolve from traditional teaching methods to solutions in which the person “learns by doing”. The idea in this case is to allow people to experiment, with the opportunity to make mistakes and learn by doing so. Using games for teaching increases people’s motivation, helps them face specific challenges, allows them to structure their knowledge and to retain it to a much greater extent by using simulated links to the real world.

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A FEW LINKS...

SERIOUS GAME CLASSIFICATION SITE

A website which provides a list of many serious games, with powerful search facilities.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF GAMES

The International Journal of serious games publishes high quality papers.

THE SERIOUS GAMES INSTITUTE

The Serious Games Institute is a UK-based international research centre on serious games.