The crazy things they’re using computer games for these days.

Valorie pointed me to this article at the Washington Post (Free registration required, sorry :(). 

Everyone knows about the current crop video games - Doom 3, Halo 2, Half-Life 2, The Sims 2, GTA: Vice City, etc.  Even the U.S. Army's gotten on the bandwagon with their quasi-recruiting games (Full Spectrum Warrior and America's Army).

But then there are some of the more obscure games that will be hitting the market during the next year...

For instance, there's Glucoboy, a game for the Gameboy to help kids with Juvenile Diabetes, and SuperCharged! which helps kids understand physics.

And they're releasing the Federal Budget Game, a game to solve the federal budget deficit.

There's even a trade group for people who write games about serious subjects, the "Serious Games Initiative", and they have a trade show that ran on Monday and Tuesday of this week, the "Serious Games Summit".  This is a big deal forum, sponsored by the U.S. Army, the GDC, Gamasutra, etc.

My only issue with this is, I thought games were supposed to be for fun, not serious...

On the other hand, with panels like "Non Combat Military Game Efforts", "Is Open Source the Silver Bullet for Costs, Time and Process", "The Potential of Games in Healthcare" and "Things You Should Know About Serious Games But Probably Don't: Better Collaboration by Avoiding Key Stumbling Blocks", how can they go wrong?


Comments (14)

  1. Manip says:

    Did you ever consider your definition of a game might be wrong? I mean what is a game? Something fun? An interactive medium? Something with 3D graphics? Who really knows. This seems like a perfectly good idea to me and a valid medium for the information.

    We will be seeing a lot more educational games created in the future it might even become the defacto standard.

    A few years ago I played a game designed for children that was surposed to teach basic programming – You wrote code to get a robot to move around a maze and stuff like that. Very poorly done, but in theory it could work.

  2. css says:

    Glucoboy was actually made with research done in our CS department at my university. I know some of the people involved with it since I work for the department admining servers.

  3. That’s very cool css 🙂

    Btw, in case it wasn’t clear, I think that things like Glucoboy are absolutely neat. They really are.

    On the other hand, the concept that there’s such a thing as a "serious games initiative" I find somewhat disturbing. Especially the amount of serious games that are related to the U.S. Military.

  4. Joel says:

    Just recently started visiting your blog, and as a (self-considered) gamer, I felt I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to say something.

    While games have changed amazingly over the last 10 years, I feel there should be no reason why people cannot create "serious" games. My opinion is, and always has been, that games are going to be around for quite awhile, and if some games solve certain problems for us and earn the moniker "serious" than so be it, but a game is a game, whether or not it serves a purpose or is simply for enjoyment (still serves a purpose). Games are meant to be fun and God bless the people who create games that are fun and solve problems!

  5. foxyshadis says:

    *recalls math munchers on apple II in grade school* 😀

  6. Ovidiu says:

    Well, the market will decide. No matter how much effort goes into any product, if it meets the consumers’ needs, it will take off. If not, it won’t – it’s really as simple as that.

    Btw, my all-time favourites are "The Incredible Machine" and the "… Tycoon" series 🙂

  7. Mat Hall says:

    Come November 16th, there will be only one game. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’re beyond hope.)

  8. Isn’t November 16th the day they’re releasing "Deer Hunter 27 – The Movie"?

  9. Marc Bernard says:

    Good timing on this post – here’s a story about a game that teaches kids about street safety:

  10. Games are one of the only ways to reach a certain demographic. I think it’s perfectly natural for a more serious "simulation" type of game that teaches reality while being completely virtual. Not actually dying is what makes games fun even if they’re completely serious.

    My favorite game of all time would be Oregon Trail. I fought people in elementary school to play that game.

  11. Dan Maas says:

    "game" = "simulation"

    I think games make an interesting laboratory, because they inspire players to come up with unusual strategies in order to "win". e.g. a "game" that simulates military conflict could make participants more productive in terms of discovering new approaches, as opposed to just sitting around a table trying to brainstorm out of thin air.

  12. San Andreas says:

    I recently played a game that taught you basic organisation skills. It is actually proven that computer games inprove organisation

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