Assessment of Serious Games

This page is meant to help me store and organize my research in Serious Games, which I will be starting in January 2009 under the supervision of Dr.Tim Marsh from the Department of Communications & New Media, NUS.  For now, I am in the midst of doing literature review and reading as much as I can on Serious Games.

Research Proposal

Games whose main purpose is to “educate, critique, or editorialize about serious issues” (Bogost, 2006) represent one of the emerging (or dying?) trends of video games nowadays.  Even though the genre has not shown promise in terms of commercial potential up to now, much has been said about its capability to teach or pass across messages.

However, governments and organizations are still hesitant to advance funds for these projects.  The reason is that “they want to see (concrete) results and large-scale statistical success” (Kelly, 2006), which the games industry or academia cannot provide.

My research aims at studying the effects of serious games in an attempt to determine to what extent they succeed in transmitting the messages they were intended to impart.

Literature Review

Currently Reading

  • Developing Serious Games. By Byran Bergeron. Charles River Media.
  • Gameplay Mechanics. By Dunniway & Novak. Delmar Cengage Learning.
  • What Video Games have to teach us about Learning and Literacy. By James Paul Gee. Macmillan.

To Read

  • Persuasive Games. By Ian Bogost. The MIT Press.
  • What Videogame Making Can Teach Us About Literacy and Learning: Alternative Pathways into Participatory Culture. By Peppler & Kafai. Paper
  • The Rhetoric of Persuasive Games. DiGRA conference 2007. Poster
  • Fine Tuning the Persuasion in Persuasive Games. By Khaled & Co. Paper
  • Serious Games An Overview. By Tarja Susi. Paper

Read

Persuasive Games Played

  • Campaign Rush: Simple point-and-click game a la Diner Dash.  A political game for CNN to show people how hectic it is in the candidates’ offices during this period.
  • Fatworld: Sort of open world simulation where you basically try things out like doing meal plans, new recipes, exercising, etc to see how they affect your health
  • Airport Security: More of a casual game.  Great fun but hard.  You need to screen people’s belongings at the airport security point and take out items that are prohibited at that time.  The items keep changing, so you have to memorize and keep track.  There’s also a time factor as your queue cannot get too long. Nice litte game with a fun factor as sometimes people are prohibited to wear clothes, so you have to take them off.
  • Climate Challenge: Very interesting game.  More of a strategy-based one where you have to make choices on how to use the resources available to you and still meet your set target.  Basically as the President of the European Nations, you have a number of turns to decrease your CO2 emission levels to a defined target but you must be careful not to make citizens too unhappy, else you can be voted out of office.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/hottopics/climatechange/climate_challenge/

Random Ideas

  • Ethnomethodology: Antitheory field of study.

One can see a lack of theory in the field of persuasive game design too.  Miettinen (1999), arguing for the need for theory : “How is it possible to decide what is important and essential and what is not without theoretical preconceptions?”

  • Types of roles and uses of theories by Shneiderman (2002):-
  1. Descriptive theories: Identify key concepts or variables n make basic conceptual distinctions
  2. Explanatory theories: Reveal relationships and processes
  3. Predictive theories: Make it possible to make predictions about performance in a range of potential contexts
  4. Prescriptive theories: Provide guidelines based on best practice
  5. Generative theories: Faciliate creativity, invention and discovery

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