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A 'Serious' Growth Area For Game Developers?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the fight-the-fight dept.

56

simoniker writes "The recently launched Serious Games Source website, which deals with games created for training, health, government, military, and educational uses, has an interview with the Serious Game Initiative's Ben Sawyer, in which the non-profit director, looking back at E3, comments controversially: 'I believe that every company in the games space will have a serious games related business position in the next ten years.' Sawyer especially referenced Square Enix's recent announcement that it has created a subsidiary to 'develop and distribute edutainment style software'. How many of our traditional education and training courses will be taken over by games over the next few years?"

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Not new, 8 bit computer had great educational (5, Insightful)

gbrandt (113294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430373)

Back in the day....

Selling those 8 bit Commodores, "back in the day", the educational software market was huge...MAvis Beacon, Carmen Sandiego. Most adults bought the machine for their kids and the first software purchase was for education...then games. It wasn't until the later 8 bit years nearing the 16 bit years that games took off bigger than educational software.

Gregor

Re:Not new, 8 bit computer had great educational (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430400)

Selling those 8 bit Commodores, "back in the day", the educational software market was huge...MAvis Beacon, Carmen Sandiego.

Yeah, I learned to do surgery from the M*A*S*H video game.

Re:Not new, 8 bit computer had great educational (1)

bagsc (254194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432682)

Look how many people now know of the dangers of dysentery on The Oregon Trail.

A Serious Growth Area... (2, Funny)

Red Samurai (893134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430375)

Better get that checked out...

Re: A Serious Growth Area... (1)

Burlap (615181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430799)

I keep trying but she always seems to have a headache

Maybe someday... (5, Funny)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430417)

When long division becomes as fun as slapping hookers, stealing cars, and mowing down hordes of aliens with a chaingun....

Re:Maybe someday... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430514)

I for one find long division a much better use of my time, and therefore funner.

Re:Maybe someday... (2, Funny)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430571)

funner.

Imaginary Numbers = Good.
Imaginary Words = Bad.
You may be good at math, but I think you need more time with those language edutainment games.

Re:Maybe someday... (2)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430772)

I think funner is just as cromulent a word as edutainment. (See, changing nter to du makes it cool. Or not. Please tell me that this abomination of a word hasn't made it into Websters....)

Remember when Trip Hawkins at 3DO was pushing "Edutainment" as the "wave of the future!" I think that system was mainly used for playing Japanese "H" Games at the end of its lifespan....

So, I guess if I really want to get the jump on this new "edutainment" trend, I should start investing in companies that produce H games....

A Far Cry. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430436)

Like the use for Farcry for geovisualization [rmit.edu.au] *

*I have plenty more were that came from for anyone interested.

Re:A Far Cry. (1)

EnderGT (916132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430581)

I always wanted to build a Duke Nukem 3D level of the GA Tech campus... Might not be too far-fetched of an idea after all.

Time to dig up the game CD...

Re:A Far Cry. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431735)

A guy a know did a Duke3D map for our highschool. These days he'd probably get suspended for doing such a thing.

Re:A Far Cry. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431708)

Do you have any that aren't PDFs? :P

how many? (5, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430437)

"How many of our traditional education and training courses will be taken over by games over the next few years?"

All of them. I'm particularly looking forward to playing Super Quantum Chromodynamics Brothers II, Welfare Fraud Investigator Deluxe, and Tom Clancy's: State Farm Policy Insurance Ghost Writer.

Re:how many? (1)

Nova1313 (630547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430626)

Welfare fraud investigator? sounds riviting! Maybe we can all collaborate to capture those fraudulent in real life! Our we could raid the city I live in for it *ducks*

Re:how many? (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430786)

Welfare fraud investigator? sounds riviting! Maybe we can all collaborate to capture those fraudulent in real life! Our we could raid the city I live in for it *ducks*

Nice MMORPG... Massively Multiplayer Offline Ripoff Protection Game?

Re:how many? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431746)

Heh you ever play "Perry Mason, the case of the mandarin murder" on the C64? Mile a minute action!

Re:how many? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430940)

Tom Clancy's: State Farm Policy Insurance Ghost Writer.

You know that Tom Clancy used to be in the insurance business, right? Yeah. He's not from the military or the intelligence community.

Edutainment? *sighs* (1)

Go MSFT, stop Linux! (977883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430438)

Education alone is entertaining. Why should a lesson on grammar (or covalent bonds, or anything) be combined with some sick shooter game that promotes immoral behavior in children? How about more learning in the classroom and less clowning around with stupid games. Games for for smelling, jobless losers that try to scam people eBay so they can buy that new gaming console/lame hardware.

Re:Edutainment? *sighs* (1)

blackdragon7777 (720994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430598)

Here is one of the first lessons that you learn in the intro to proofs class:
All shooters are games, however not all games are shooters.

Therefore, shooter games are a subset of games. You can have many different types of games that are educational that do not have violence in them at all. Look at Brain Age for the Nintendo DS for a perfect example of how you can make an educational game without violence.

Re:Edutainment? *sighs* (2, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430618)

Yes, we hate idiots.
No, you really don't want to validate their existance by responding to them.
(Yes, this message is self defeating.)

Re:Edutainment? *sighs* (1)

Nesetril (969734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430826)

must feed the troll!!! Seriously, though. There is no reason why an educational game must be a shooter. Experience shows that grinding for experience can have people glued to the screen for hours! All we need to do is change the quests from "bring me 12 boar husks" to "bring me 12 divergent series". Then you get this "integration test" ability and start to gold farm.

So, I guess some of the tests for divergence will have to be nerfed. And numerical integration is too unbalanced, I have always said. Still... a calculus game is a solid concept!

Re:Edutainment? *sighs* (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431721)

Learning is only entertaining if you make it entertaining. Most people have no fucking idea whatsoever how to do this. In addition if you give a kid the option of doing a math test or going out to play, unless they're a quadriplegic they're probably going to be out the door so fast they'll be represented only by a sonic boom and a vaguely child-shaped blur.

They tried to tell us something about the oregon trail in class when I was a kid, but it was boring so I didn't pay attention. The only reason I have any idea of anything about it is that I played the cute little game on the Apple ][.

I would have gotten a much better education from a pile of educational games than I did from school. That variety of titles didn't exist then, and it doesn't exist now - more's the pity.

Edutainment these days sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430455)

It's all this jumpstart crud, just videos with random slight interaction at moments.

Give us the glory days of the 80s, when edutainment games were actually games at least some of the time. GIVE US ROBOT ODYSSEY!

Government/ Military (2, Insightful)

runlevel 5 (977409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430575)

I think there was a /. article [slashdot.org] a few months back that talked a bit about the increasing use of combat simulators in military training programs. What software developer wouldn't want to tap into the [infinitely deep] pockets of the government?

Re:Government/ Military (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15435163)

Interestingly I've heard that the military uses simulators because they can't afford ammo for every training session.

DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS! (0, Troll)

Go MSFT, stop Linux! (977883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430579)

Developers, developers, developers!

Virtual Heroes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430606)

Virtual Heroes, the development house behind Americas Army, is working on several pretty neat titles. I don't know how much I can talk about these, since I toured their development studios - but they're working on a collaborative team-based puzzle space game, where teams are provided a problem and have to work out a solution (think Apollo 13). They're also working on nurse and emergency responder simulation training games - editing a game to include new basic emergency responder techniques is easier and faster to distribute than manuals and training personel.

Re:Virtual Heroes (1)

matthewcraig (68187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431576)

Their in-game training for the battlefield medic was some of the best Virtual Reality learning I have ever seen. I still remember the steps for triage.

What about the classic (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430770)

Flight Simulator?
I would like to see more open ended games that didn't involve killing people or being a criminal.

Re:What about the classic (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430936)

Sims.
Worlds number 1 game is a virtual dolls house.

go figure.

Myself, I prefer shoot em ups, currently I'm waging war in Call of Duty

Re:What about the classic (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431190)

Maybe I should have added that I already have a real life.
Maybe a game where I could drive across country?
Or maybe one where I am pilot a research sub?
Or drive an ATV to place research instruments in a national forest?
Or get to be smoke jumper?
All with really good graphics?
How about all of the above as missions in a game?
Seems like you could have a game with the depth of some of the GTA games but with more positive missions.

Re:What about the classic (1)

Pinback (80041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431442)

You wouldn't like Microsoft US President Simulator then. Even with the Vice President add on pack.

Re:What about the classic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15432168)

In most non-combat flight simulators, you do play as a criminal--or at least I've never heard of anyone outside of X-Plane submitting and following a flight plan.

Re:What about the classic (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15437793)

In the US you don't have to submit a flight plan for VFR.

This is great news! (2, Funny)

xmtrx (673228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430810)

The time is ripe to pitch these blockbuster web-app edutainment titles:

The Matrix: Excess XSS

and

The Matrix SQL: Injected

...pending franchise approval, of course.

(The Brothers Wack' have already covered buffer overruns.)

Re:This is great news! (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431820)

xmtrx.GeekPoints--;

I'm pretty sure a Matrix hacking game would concentrate on buffer overflows [securityfocus.com] .

Re:This is great news! (1)

xmtrx (673228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432818)

First of all, how dare you objectify me with such a blatant attempt to violate  my member variable.  It was declared *private* for a reason!  In the future, should you wish to avoid hard-lockdown and debuggery, kindly invoke the appropriate accessor method, passing the quantity of points you wish to deduct and your credential object for authentication, authorization and auditing purposes.

Secondly, I covered the buffer overflow issue in the last line of my original post.

New franchise!  Splinter Cell: Poisoned Cookie

That would be hilarious: (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432449)

Morpheus: "Neo, you forgot to escape input you received from the user. You know what that means?"
Neo: "No, Morpheus."
Morpheus: "It means everyone who does business with the Bank of Zion is about to get their identity hijacked and the next time you get together with Trinity she will actually be a 40 year old Russian Man."
Neo: "Whoa."

Here's more information.... (2, Interesting)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430828)

Here's more information, a Wired article about how 3DO is going to revolutionize the game industry... by destroying it to make way for "edutainment." [wired.com]

Oooh, it has "interactive movies" too... I'm actually salivating, "play an interactive movie: help create characters, shift the story line, change the situation, watch something different happen each time - cable in the VCR and edit your home videos." I'm sure that's going to beat the heck out of playing games! (Note, article is from May/Jun 1993 and titled "3DO: Hip or Hype? Is it the next Apple, Microsoft, and Nintendo rolled into one? Or is it too good to be true? Joe Flower finds out.")

You guys, I'm totally cereal! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430853)

This is a totally cereal growth area, why won't you guys believe me?
--Al Gore

This just in... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430873)

Serious Games Source has just been acquired by Internet giant Yahoo.

The relaunched site, Yahoo Serious Games Source, is now in beta testing in Australia.

I want to play... (1)

Il128 (467312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15430998)

Gram's Stain or Die. Serial Dilution to 10^9 and Get the Power-Up! Streak Plating Gone Wild! Name That Pathogen!

Social Skills Building Games (5, Informative)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431129)

I'd really love to see some development in games dealing with building social skills. That may seem like an oxymoron but there's really something to be said for learning skills in an environment that does not induce the full amount of stress that the real world situation does.

I think dating sims are a great start to this, but they are all fantasy based, very unrealistic etc. I'd love to see a video game that uses real life video of people to train you to better read facial expressions and body language as well as to learn good responses to situations that may cause social anxiety.

If anybody can think of any currently existing titles that are good for this, by all means please post them.

And for you smartasses who are going to answer "I got a game for you, its called Real Life"....my response to you is that as someone with Social Anxiety Disorder, it isn't always as simple as "oh, I'm nervous around people so I'll go talk to as many as I can to try to get over this". Often times there is a specific underlying fear of the social interaction itself (or many fears) that need to be worked on before someone is able to test their skills out on a real person. I honestly think that the one person qualified to make such a game would be David DeAngelo. Some of his stuff may be fluff and an attempt at pushing more product, but at his core, he knows his shit and he speaks the brutal truth about interaction with the opposite sex.

Re:Social Skills Building Games (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431699)

I think this is quite frankly impossible. Humans do not behave in the way they are supposed to. Learning how to relate to people is not about learning how to behave, or how to respond, to a fixed set of stimuli. Everyone is different and many (most!) people cross-signal constantly. There is no way to learn to interact other than interacting.

I think a computer program would do more harm than good by giving you a false sense of proficiency.

Re:Social Skills Building Games (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431727)

I think a computer program would do more harm than good by giving you a false sense of proficiency.

Even with a false sense of proficiency, you would at least have confidence. I've studied improvisational acting quite a bit, so if I press myself, I can usually fake confidence. When you seem confident, even with no real social skill, things do tend to go more smoothly. I still hate most social settings, especially if there are lots of people around, but a tool to help build up confidence at basic social interaction would be a huge help. So, I can see a place for "social training" edutainment. Personally, I'd probably buy a copy.

Some people are able to learn normal social behavior as children. Some of us simply never managed. (How the hell do the 90%+ of people who learn 'appropriate' eye contact actually learn it? It doesn't seem to be an inherent thing, because different cultures have different norms for eye contact, but it's something that is basically never taught! If I could get training on normal eye contact, I think it'd help quite a bit...)

Re:Social Skills Building Games (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432073)

(How the hell do the 90%+ of people who learn 'appropriate' eye contact actually learn it? It doesn't seem to be an inherent thing, because different cultures have different norms for eye contact, but it's something that is basically never taught! If I could get training on normal eye contact, I think it'd help quite a bit...)

I hate to break this to you but outside of finishing school, none of it is ever taught. And, although I don't (to my knowledge) have any related disorders, when I'm in awkward social situations, I sweat profusely, turn red from scalp to about the base of my neck, and so on. It's not necessarily easy!

People don't teach you these things. They rebuke you when you do something wrong, and that's typically it. You are expected to learn the proper behaviors from being ritually punished.

Don't worry too much about "proper" eye contact or any shit like that. Everyone is different and everyone's reactions will be different.

Again, I realize that it is easy for me to say this, and not so easy for you to do it, but the fact is that every living thing is different from every other living thing and there is no training that will prepare you for all of them.

Re:Social Skills Building Games (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432079)

Actually, most online multiplayer RPGs (or "MMORPGs") are good for this in my experiences, particularly ones that reward interaction but that don't necessarily require it. I found that playing online text games (MUDs) back in college actually helped me get at ease with socialization in a non-threatening environment. If I made a serious faux pas, I didn't have someone angry or upset right in my face flustering me. I also learned how to communicate with people and learn how words that had one meaning for me had a separate meaning for other people; in other words, I learned the importance of body language and other visual cues.

I'm an introvert: socializing tends to tire me out. (I recommend the excellent book The Introvert Advantage for people that want to know accurate definitions of introversion and extroversion.) I didn't get a lot of practice since I preferred to be by myself when I was younger. However, talking and playing with people online was enough to let me interact with people and get comfortable doing it. If I got too tired I just wandered off to kill some monsters and play the game. :)

This isn't to say that talking to people online is all you need to do. On the contrary, you need to follow up and deal with people offline as well; D&D was my venue of choice for that in college. However, I think online socialization was the important first step to allowing me to learn how to extrovert so well. I own my own business and have to deal with other people on a regular basis. I've learned little tips and tricks on how to deal with getting tired from interaction with others, and I know where my limits are.

My thoughts,

Social Skills Building Games - the Sims? (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432195)

I think dating sims are a great start to this, but they are all fantasy based, very unrealistic etc. I'd love to see a video game that uses real life video of people to train you to better read facial expressions and body language as well as to learn good responses to situations that may cause social anxiety.

If anybody can think of any currently existing titles that are good for this, by all means please post them.


Hmmm. How about the Sims 2? Specifically, the Hot Date, University, and Nightlife expansions for that?

They're all fairly accurate, with a little bit of humorous silliness thrown in so it's not boring.

There's a reason why the Sims is the most widely sold computer game - most of the players are actually women and girls, in fact. But most game mechanics are based on actual psychology and sociology studies.

Re:Social Skills Building Games (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432971)

I'd really love to see some development in games dealing with building social skills. That may seem like an oxymoron but there's really something to be said for learning skills in an environment that does not induce the full amount of stress that the real world situation does.

90% of learning skills is dealing with the stress of the real world environment.

Re:Social Skills Building Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15433601)

1) Create the game
2) Post it on Slashdot
3) Profit!

Warning: "serious" is overloaded in this context.. (2, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431457)


Warning: "serious" is overloaded in this context:
"serious games"

Found 2 possible classes:

"Serious::Game" in namespace "Croteam"
"Serious::Game" in namespace "adjective"

Didn't anybody else think <voice="Serious Sam">"Cool - Croateam are doing more Serious games - let's get our Serious Bombs and go kick some serious ass!"</voice>

'Serious' Games Source, huh? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15431698)

"Serious Games Source", huh? And they don't have Serious Sam? Doesn't sound very serious...

*hesitates to click the Post Anonymously button*

Serious games I'd like to play (1)

patternjuggler (738978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432442)

Atom smasher- a physically realistic simulation of what happens when you take one particle and fire it at another at a good fraction of the speed of light. They could leave out a lot of really obscure stuff that would probably be hard to simulate anyway, maybe just go to energy levels used in accelerators say from 30-50 years ago.

Also add something like a virtual solar furnace/big bang that would allow you to start out with hydrogen and try to build increasingly heavier elements.

Chemical construction kit- grab a hold of atoms and molecules and try to jam them together to create bigger and more complex molecules. Lots of that would be very hard to simulate too, so it could be more of a cartoon rather than always 100% accurate.

For any of those you could still have a conventional game, but just switch things up by make the games mechanical physics accurate to increasingly microscopic scales- and the characters would shrink too, so the computational load would be be increased by having more fine-grained simulation but that would be offset by reducing the scope of the playable world.

Any piece of software now that is used by engineers or scientists to model various phenomena is going to be something a game could incorporate as computing power increases. Right now there's a lot of interesting simulation software that is only used by engineers and scientists, and they are expensive and very hard to use- but they should be something that in 5-10 years is just another effect to turn on in the Unreal 25 engine or whatever. A child could get an intuitive understanding of high-mach number air flows over various shapes if you put an easy to use interface on a CFD package.

I think games like that would give me and students a more intuitive feel for processes beyond ordinary experience, so that if and when we do learn the real math and underlying principles it will seem very natural.

UNC's edutainment for credit (1)

bagsc (254194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15432701)

I wish we had this [uncg.edu] in my Economics Department... Video games for college credit is possibly the best idea ever.

If Civ counted for History credit, I'd probably have a PhD in it by now.

Not a good start (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15433640)

Would anyone really consider educational software that starts by butchering the language with an ugly marketing hybrid word like "edutainment"?
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