Serious Games for Education Research

As with any growing field, there has yet to be an agreed definition of serious games.

Well when do games get serious? When they have a purpose or have been repurposed for something other than merely entertainment.

Whilst I focus my work on games for education, the field has considerable width encapsulating such diverse areas as games for social change, games for health, advertising and games, games for training, games for science and research, games for production and even games as work.

Some argue that serious games mean software and whilst this makes up the bulk of research we must also be aware of those game types which exist on the boundaries such as Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games, Play By Email, etc. and those outside of it such as over the table role-playing games, board games and even card and dice games.

Those who doubt the worth of games for education; consider an authentic environment in which the learner is actively tested to ascertain the level of challenge required specific to that learner and the skill level is checked constantly to ensure the learner is always in the zone of optimal development. Complex real-life problems are presented with the ability for the learner to experiment time and again with their own possible solutions. Learner’s actions are analysed and experts scaffold the experience, suggesting flaws in approaches and possible paths.

And the learning environment described... Madden 09!

We have much to learn from games as we seek to produce learning environments that do more than just drill and quiz, but we must tread cautiously and temper enthusiasm with focused research.