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GDC 2009: Shifting from Entertainment to Serious Games

Via: Game Developer Conference 2009 - Serious Games Summit Track

SGS Session: Shifting from Entertainment to Serious Games: Breathing life into FLAME-SIMTM

Speaker: Chad Kent (Executive Producer, High Voltage Software)

From initial client-developer interaction through the final phases of quality assurance, the development of Serious Games necessitates its own distinct process.

While the process of Serious Game development draws heavily from that of entertainment games, there exist fundamental differences between the two.

This session will present this key issue through the lens of the latest major game studio to undertake its first Serious Games project.

The Project Background

FLAME-SIM is a training simulator for firefighters and is the first big project to come out from the award winning studio High Voltage Software (HVS).

FLAME-SIMTM was developed to help keep the crew sharp between live burns and fire emergencies using advanced video game technology with interactive programming elements.

It features direct input from respected training officers and extensive research into NFPA and NIST guidelines to provide accurate simulations with realistic scenario evolutions, hazards and results.

Its advanced, intuitive software package lets your training officer easily set-up the session. FLAME-SIMTM gives you the options to customize nearly every aspect of the simulation to create a virtual reality that can approximate key elements of sea-borne and shore-based department-wide training.

Most importantly, FLAME-SIMTM generates an after action report for every participant, accurately detailing their actions to help them evaluate their skills and focus on areas of improvement.

Last September, The Florida Bureau of Fire Standards and Training has granted accreditation to FLAME-SIMTM for use in a class titled, "Fire Officer Virtual Experience Skills Training (VEST)."

The class is being offered at the Florida State Fire College, the first fire training academy to offer course work utilizing the revolutionary training software.

VEST is a twenty-four hour class given over three days to teach strategies and tactics to company officers and chiefs.
Goals of the program include:

- Improving the tracking and coordination skills of the on-scene Fire Officer.
- Limiting Micromanagement in real-time events.
- Interfacing with FO from multiple agencies, spreading the pros and cons of varying SOG.


State-of-the-art computer simulation puts the trainee in “real world” situations in a totally interactive training environment that challenges them either randomly or by instructor directed programming to apply theoretical training to actual firefighting situations.

FLAME-SIMTM educational design utilizes a teach, train, and test philosophy. Trainees first address a fire scenario via an interactive tutorial that coaches them through proper decision making and appropriate actions to be taken.

The scenario is then duplicated, this time with prescriptive directions supplied only if actions are delayed or if an incorrect decision is made. Trainees then progress to the testing level where no support is supplied. Their performance is then graded, critiqued and recorded.

FLAME-SIMTM architecture is such that it can be used for individual “down- time” training, company level team applications or department-wide/academy curricula.

Annual updates are available that cover expanded training subjects, changes related to management of specific fire events (“lessons learned”), the application of new technology or operational methodology.

Because of the versatile design software utilized to develop FLAME-SIM, custom modules can be offered to address specific building designs or situations of concern. 

FLAME-SIM is designed to teach, train and test firefighters in a safe, interactive, virtual, yet realistic and challenging environment.

Utilizing high-end video gaming technology previously developed for entertainment purposes, it offers a real time, expandable fire fighter training and evaluation experience without the costs and risks involved in traditional approaches.

Adaptable to informal “on-site” company training or department-wide educational programs, Flame-Sim offers a most effective and adaptable educational package available to firefighters today.

Variable and controllable scenarios, situations, and environments assure an engaging training experience while avoiding predictability that invalidates the trainee’s learning experience.

About High Voltage Software

Award winning studio High Voltage Software (HVS) is a leading company in game and simulation development.

The HVS focus is to construct video games and simulations that accurately supports, showcases, and expands your intellectual property into the realm of the 3-D gaming experience.

Founded in 1993 by Kerry Ganofsky, HVS has successfully produced a wide variety of license based video game titles such as competitive racing, professional sports, horror, motion picture adaptations, and military simulations set on past, present and future battlefields.

HVS’s expert 140 person staff is dedicated to creating environments and experiences that will propel your property in to a new level of realism and interactivity.

HVS maintains its own proprietary software simulation engines.