Okay, the term “serious games” might seem a little confusing. The first time I encountered the term, I immediately though of the bone-dry typing games our computer teacher forced us to play in middle school. “Look, it’s fun!” she would exclaim, as we listlessly typed paragraphs to earn boring silver coins. It was very serious, and it barely resembled a game. Srsly.

Game design and development

“Serious games” today are quite different. The term defines a genre of games that serve a purpose other than pure entertainment. That purpose could be to improve fitness or wellness, teach a new skill, or to improve brand awareness. Most serious games fall into one of three categories: Simulations, Game-Based Learning, or Health Games.

Simulation Games

building simulation gamesSimulation games, games that provide a virtual learning experience that mimics the real world, have been popular since 3rd graders first died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. That tradition continues with simulation serious games like HumanSim’s Zero Hour and the Stock Market Simulator.

The Marine Corps has even gotten in the game, with the training simulator Close Combat: Marines. The game was first released by the Marine Corps Gazette and Matrix Games in 2004, and has since become a successful simulation game franchise.


Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning appsGame-based learning apps have a similar goal to simulation games: they are meant to teach a skill. The difference lies in the approach. Simulators feel like games with educational elements. Game-based learning apps tend to feel educational, with gamification embedded within lessons.

Duolingo is a highly successful language learning app that utilizes gamification with badges, points, and fun. It was Apple’s 2013 App of the Year, and Google Play’s Best of the Best. Schools are embracing EdTech serious games as well, with subjects ranging from biology to grammar.

Health Games

Health appsHealth serious games, or health apps that contain gamification, are incredibly trendy at the moment. Whether you want to feel rewarded for eating right, building good habits, or exercising, there are apps to help make your journey more entertaining. 

Fitocracy is a wellness tracker, allowing users to manage calories and workouts. For mobile users looking to build positive habits, HabitRPG provides a gamification platform for customized goals. Zombies, Run! has earned attention for its unique approach in motivating fitness. The user becomes “Runner 5”, and must complete various running missions… while being pursued by hordes of the shambling undead.

As you can see, “serious games” are still entertaining. They are designed to teach anything from languages to medical techniques using highly interactive and engaging game formats.

Thinking about building a serious game for your organization? You’ve come to the right place! Give us a call at 603.881.9200 to learn more.

Tags: language learning app, serious games, health games, online simulation games, simulators games