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Teaser

In this article we explain what serious games are, in which areas they are used, the differences to game-based learning and more.

What is a serious Game?

The term "serious games" refers to games that are intended to impart knowledge in an entertaining way. This includes both simple learning games and games with problematic topics that require attention. They are part of gamification and are mainly implemented digitally.

Auf dem Bild ist ein Mädchen mit weißem Kleid. Das Kind schaut durch eine VR-Brille und lächelt. Die VR-Brille zeigt freudige Augen aus Pixeln

Differences to gamification

The use of playful elements in a non-game context is called gamification. Serious games, on the other hand, can only exist in the form of games. Gamification, however, can also include applications that exclusively involve the use of playful elements. For example, a points system in education can be used as a playful element. Gamified elements, especially rewards, can be used to motivate students. More information can be found in the article „What is gamification”.

Differences to Game-Based Learning

The term "game-based learning" describes the process of integrating playful elements into a learning context. In contrast, serious games are games that serve to impart knowledge in an entertaining way. Thus they have a learning purpose, which is why they are part of game-based learning, as game-based learning is also associated with game-based learning. Furthermore, game-based learning differs in that it includes both digital and analogue game types. In the same way, the focus is on imparting knowledge. In contrast to serious games, no entertainment purpose is pursued. You can find out more about game-based learning in the article „What is Game Based learning”.

Differences to Edutainment

Edutainment is made up of two terms. One is "education", the other "entertainment". Translated, this means "education" and "entertainment". Edutainment thus conveys entertaining learning. In contrast to serious games, edutainment focuses on learning. You can find more details on this in the article "Edutainment".

Das Bild zeigt vier Personen mit VR-Brillen. Sie sitzen in einem Raum auf einem Hocker und spielen die Gamification Inhalte

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Application of Serious Games

Since many people often lack motivation to learn something, learning through games can help. Because of this, serious games pursue a multi-purpose and use entertainment elements. Carefully selected game mechanics must be used to keep the player hooked to the game.

Eine weiße Oculus Quest von Facebook liegt im Gras

Different areas

Serious games can be used in a wide variety of areas. These include educational institutions in the form of learning games (also called "educational games") as well as training and further education for companies. Other areas include health care, the military and fitness sector, as well as the advertising industry, art and religion. Certain topics in the political and social sphere can attract attention and encourage the player to deal with them more intensively. An example of this would be the topic of "climate change".

Effective use

Learning must be fun, so the entertainment factor plays the most important role. With the help of the correct use of the game flow, motivational cycle and three-phase cycle, the player can be motivated. This makes it easier and more effective to absorb knowledge.

Eine weiße Oculus Quest von Facebook liegt im Gras

Gameflow

Serious games need a balanced "game flow". The game flow consists of 50% entertainment and 50% knowledge transfer. The flow should neither under- nor over-challenge the player, otherwise the fun of the game can be lost. Therefore, the game must consist of difficult and easy levels in order to generate this balance.

MOTIVATION CYCLE

The motivational cycle consists of three phases: Action, Reward and Motivation. Here, the player must be motivated by rewards, for example in the form of achievements. Likewise, a points system in a ranking list can help to motivate players in the long term. More on this topic can be found in the article "Serious Games: Learning is a Game".

Three-phase cycle

The three-phase cycle consists of user behaviour, feedback and user judgement. The repetition of the three-phase cycle should enable the player to consolidate the knowledge learned. By constantly receiving direct and individual feedback, the player can change his behaviour and adapt his actions. In this way, learning successes can be achieved more quickly and easily.

Conclusion

Serious games are games with a multi-purpose, in which the focus is on entertainment. They serve to impart knowledge in an entertaining way and can be used in a wide variety of areas. In order to use serious games effectively, the correct use of game flow, game mechanics, motivational cycle and three-phase cycle plays an important role.

An article from Danielle Kern written on 25. 06 2019

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