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"Serious Games" Industry Gains Traction 92

schliz writes "So-called 'serious games' are gaining traction in military, business, education, and medical applications as Gen X and Y come into power, iTnews reports. While game developers acknowledge the risk of trivializing real-world issues (as in the Six Days in Fallujah controversy), intelligently designed 'serious games' could allow complex situations to be presented in a simple way. Cisco, for example, has an amusing online games arcade that prepares networking professionals for a variety of certifications."
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"Serious Games" Industry Gains Traction

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  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Monday May 10, 2010 @06:49PM (#32163206) Homepage

    Serious games have had their own conference (in D.C., where the government and charity funding sources are, of course) for several years now. Serious games are major -- and they're no longer just low-grade "edutainment." They're about things like teaching kids how to manage their diabetes; teaching firefighters how to handle hazardous materials; helping injury recovery and rehabilitation; training surgeons; teaching Third World executives how to manage a water system efficiently. And yes, they are fun.

    Imagine a form of physical therapy that ISN'T both agonizingly painful and mind-bogglingly dull. Distraction works as well as painkillers; video games have been demonstrated to be efficacious.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Monday May 10, 2010 @07:21PM (#32163490)

    Well, a big part of their push seems to be training-games/etc., which just seems like the adult version of educational games.

    I do agree that there are other aspects games can cover, of which the representing-what-something-is-like part is a big one. But those haven't always been taboo for games, either. One of the best 80s games on the Cold War was Chris Crawford's Balance of Power [] , which aimed to illustrate the issues involved, not just provide a "fun" war simulation. To emphasize the point, if you triggered a nuclear war, the game did nothing but end and print a textual message: "You have ignited a nuclear war. And no, there is no animated display of a mushroom cloud with parts of bodies flying through the air. We do not reward failure." There's a lot more [] examples too, although I agree expanding them would be good.

    Is that really where "serious games", especially in the form of the "serious games industry" is going, though? Things going vaguely under the heading "newsgames", like Darfur is Dying [] seem to be doing that better, while the "serious games industry" seems to be focused on, well, people who would pay them to make a serious game, which tends to be more training-ish stuff.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday May 10, 2010 @07:21PM (#32163496) Homepage

    I hear the KA-50 Black Shark [] simulator is pretty close.

    Rigid body dynamics equations have been used to calculate the helicopter's flight trajectory. In essence, this means that all external forces and force momentums are used to calculate a body's position and rotation in 3-D space.

    The Ka-50 airframe aerodynamic properties are derived from its sub-element parameters: fuselage, wings, tail, and landing gear. Each of these has its own position and orientation within the airframe local-coordinate system and each has their own aerodynamic characteristics. Each sub-element is calculated by independent lift-drag coefficients diagrams, damage degree influencing the lift properties, and center of gravity (CG) position and inertial characteristics. Aerodynamic forces acting on each sub-element of the airframe are calculated separately in their own coordinate system taking into account local airspeed of the sub-element.

    Then it continues to describe each system (rotors, hydraulics, electrical, etc) and how it simulates each one.

  • Re:Fun (Score:5, Informative)

    by __aagctu1952 ( 768423 ) on Monday May 10, 2010 @07:46PM (#32163714)

    Oh hey, a /. topic where I have first-hand knowledge!

    But are these "serious games" fun to play? That seems to be the most overlooked part of educational games.

    They don't have to be. You're confusing serious games with edutainment - the latter is entertainment with an educational value (even if it, as you pointed out, quite often fails at the "entertainment" bit), while the former is basically education in the form of a game. Think "military war game []" compared to "chess". Different aims, different audience. A lot of serious games would actually be called simulators, if that word hadn't carried so much semantic baggage with it.
    The project I'm involved in, aimed at firefighters and other rescue workers, is intended to be an replacement for and complement to certain live (and therefore dangerous and expensive) exercises, for example. That means it's meant to be played with instructors present, as part of their normal education regime. Thus, there's no need to "sell" the game with entertainment. Trainees can practice on their own if they want to (PC-based software), but if they do, they do it for the sake of their own education.

    Anyway, if anyone's interested in the subject I can recommend the freely available
    From Gaming to Training: A Review of Studies on Fidelity, Immersion, Presence, and Buy-in and Their Effects on Transfer in PC-Based Simulations and Games []. It's DARPA-funded (DARWARS - I love that name!) so it's aimed at military educational gaming, but it's a good introduction to the field.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp