Game on Demand VS Serious Games

Welcome Gamers and Players.

Today I’ll post about a “buzzword” which is growing in later times. It’s “Serious Games“. First of all, what’s a Serious Game? A good definition is on related Wikipedia page. Anyway, there is a lot a buzz, LinkedIn group and everything else about this topic.

A simple definition of Serious Game can be: “A serious game is a specific, training game“. It can be more fancy, but the substance is the same.
Game to learn how to recycle, game to improve sensibility against violence… you can make another examples by your own.

So, a Serious Game is something different a lot from Gamification, because what is used is the whole game itself (and not only some of the spare game mechanics) to train, improve awareness, and educate people to react in specific or very wide situation.

Badly to say, this is absolutely nothing new. I personally know a lot of teachers and educators that used games for learning (in fact, playing is the first and more primitive kind of learning). It’s a little surprising that this is presented as a “new” idea straight from Gamification.
As a surfer I understand the need of surfing a wave from its first beginning to get the longest ride… Anyway, be a little more clear, especially in a cloudy field as gamification, can be healthy for everyone.

So, Serious Game have little in common with Gamification. They are custom-designed game, so it is a matter of pure Game Design. Well, it seems very similar to my proposal of Game on Demand.

Then, what are the differences between Serious Games and Game on Demand? Quite easy: it is what I call the “disguising factor”.
Basically, I think there are structural differences between a Simulation (also if proposed as a Game) and a Game itself, and that the most valuable feature of a game is the opportunity to disguise its true content and training structures.
This concept deserves a post by its own: I’ll write about this concept, I think it is primary in game, and that it is usually misunderstood (for example by Jane McGonigal).

So, Serious Game are Simulation. They are useful, of course, and I strongly support them (as I support water, coffee and a relaxed environment in office).

But, I think, Serious Games have little or nothing to do with Gamification. Gamification, in my opinion and in actual common tongue, is the process that deconstruct games and rebuilt them all (or a single slice) to improve existing business process.
The lower level is the actual gamification (taking a single mechanics or process from games to use it into a “common” marketing strategy), the highest level is the Game on Demand (an entire games designed to achieve business objective) I’m trying to structure in a process.

So, Serious Game is a funny, fancy and interesting stuff: I’m not writing about them only because I’m not directly interested.
I think there is a lot of work to do also focusing only on Game on Demand and business-oriented Game Design.

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