How to Make a Serious Game

By Alexander Bevier in Features
Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Serious games attempt to explain and explore real life matters with game mechanics. They also attempt to serve an inherent therapeutic purpose to help the users, such as how some games are used to help soldiers overcome post traumatic stress disorder. But what exactly are the limits of serious games? The Serious Play Conference and its director, Clark Aldrich, look for explore some answers later this month.

"Serious games have introduced a new lexicon," writes Aldrich. "They can be used, for instance, to develop conviction and competence, through the increased use of engagement, practice, emotion and richer content."

Included in the conference is the first Serious Game Award ceremony. The ceremony showcases the best in serious games, and hopes to show the world what this experimental medium has to offer, as well as who's doing surprising work.

"You'd sort of think of silicon valley being the tech leader of the world, but there are parts in the Netherlands, and the middle east that have a much stronger culture around serious games than in the US. Bringing them in will be interesting. The Netherlands--for reasons I can't figure out--have a strong culture around serious game development. They're really good at it, and have used serious games to inform their citizens."

The conference promises several things outside of the normal format. While similar events feature things such as lectures and panels, the Serious Play Conference also intends to hold simulations and development circles for attendees where they can visit, learn, and experience how these games are made, as well as how they work. 


The conference is also happening alongside the Game Education Summit. GES was originally scheduled as a July event, but both events were looking for similar people to attend, and many companies could only fly out once. The decisions was made to hold both events together for a long weekend of education and discussion.

"The Game Education Summit is geared toward the faculty of universities with game dev programs," writes Sue Bohle, co-producer of the Serious Play Conference. "In the past these learning institutes' courses have primarily focused on teaching them to build hardcore games. As the Serious Games market expands, offering new opportunities, these colleges now realize they should be offering classes on serious game development. So co-location was a natural fit and will produce superb synergy."

The Serious Play Conference and Game Education Summit will be held on August 23-25.
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