The key to "Serious Games" is prioritizing entertainment over pedagogy: It doesn't matter how good the teaching is if no one wants to play
With the buzz around "Serious Games" growing, as several metrics show -- global reach, increasing budgets and revenues, press coverage, increasing number of top-tier organizations attending an increasing number of conferences encompassing games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other uses -- I've been trying to recap the moment I was first grasped by the concept, even before I've started to nurture it.
The question posed by PixeLearning "When was the last time you had to drag students from their PC at 11 o’clock at night whilst they pleaded; “Please…just another hour…I really want to finish this level”? is probably my Moment Zero.
Entertainment games are demonstrably ‘engaging’. In comparison, when the training industry uses the word ‘engaging’, there is an all too obvious incongruity.
Games engage people psychologically - they can be very emotional experiences - and they also engage people physiologically.
What is going on beyond the peripheries of the TV screen or computer monitor ceases to register to the user. Their heart rate increases, the hair on the back of the neck stands up and they may well end up laughing out loud at (or furiously cursing at) a virtual character who is actually nothing more than a collection of pixels and programming code.
If you strip away all the techno-wizardry games are essentially highly experiential software applications which foster deep levels of cognitive activity and higher-level thinking skills.
Above all, there is a most rewarding sensation common to all game players: having fun!