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Serious games, part I

Concept and history

Finally, my first article on serious games … you know, this article that you postpone by saying that it’s too big, too dense to do it justice … well this is it. be indulgent

When I heard about serious games for the first time, I first thought of a pseudo-marketing invention that brought together two opposing terms to build interest in educational games. A “new” way to sell us “games-which-are-not-useless-like-the-others-who-are-a-waste-of-time” … I’m still worried about the association pejorative between play and frivolity coming from our Judeo-Christian conception that advocates the primacy of work on leisure 1 .

But in short, I still get carried away in my stories ( games of unwanted words ).

After having played serious games for three years now, either by designing them, programming them, recommending them, describing them in lectures or playing them for long hours, serious games have become, in my opinion, a sign harbinger of a potential new paradigm social-fun !

Where does this concept of “new social-play paradigm” come from? We are experiencing a period of acceptance (or recognition) of the video game as a training tool! You find more and more examples of projects or companies that use reward video game concepts to motivate users (think of sites like foursquare , senscritique , Kloutand even some would go as far as including reward systems like Air Miles). The concepts of video games gain credibility as an information transmitter, a new media, a learning tool by fun and a fun simulator. But hey, it’s very nice lyrical impulses, but at this moment, you wonder: what is a serious game and how is it a learning tool?

Well, here are three definitions that express the concept of serious games:

Let’s start with the Great Terminology Dictionary :
Computer application that combines a serious intention of pedagogical, informational, communicational, ideological or other type, with a learning environment in the form of a video game, in order to transmit a practical knowledge or to raise awareness on a social issue.

Let’s continue with that of Samuelle-Ducrocq Henri , expert on the question in Quebec:
Serious video games (or very serious games) are new media that use the strengths of video games for training, therapy or action learning.

Let’s conclude with the author of a thesis on serious games, the Frenchman Julien Alvarez :
The serious game is a computer application, whose objective is to combine at the same time serious aspects such, in a non-exhaustive way, the teaching, the learning, the communication, or the information, with springs playful resulting video game.

In general, the commonalities of these definitions are:

They use the benefits of video games and their design (especially for immersion, information retention, mechanisms and the primacy of pleasure)
They are based on theories of learning and problem solving by environment and structure.
They have clear educational goals.
They are used for concrete purposes: teaching, communication, ideology, information, etc.
If I wanted to popularize, I would say that serious games are: “a learning tool using the concepts of simulation and playfulness to solve structured systems”.

” The basic premise is that fun in videogames comes from mastering patterns ”

– Raph Koster

Speaking of structure, I would like to introduce the vision of Raph Koster , a theoretician of video game design. His theory: the pleasure in the game comes from our innate need to understand structured systems (in English: the basic premise is that fun in videogames comes from mastering patterns ). The stimulation of our brain when we play comes from our survival instinct that drives us to understand and analyze external phenomena.

This theory continues in the same vein as Johan Huizinga, the famous historian, who was the first to write about fun with his book Homo Ludens in 1938. According to Huizinga, the historical foundations of several human systems including justice, war and the trade are the result of a creation of human structure or, if you want, of games.

” The serious game is a return to the integration of playfulness in society, but this time, in its holistic and conscious acceptance ”

It is for these reasons that serious play is, in my opinion, a return to the integration of playfulness in society, but this time, in its holistic and conscious acceptance. Reinsertion of the benefits of games and simulation in non-linear learning and problem solving. Unlike linear and masterful learning, the game requires understanding a multitude of variables, isolating phenomena and understanding the impact of a decision on a system.

For example, consider the theory of supply and demand. You can read it or you can play it .

In the next article, we will discuss its incarnation in projects and educational objectives that we can transmit.

1 On this subject, allow me to quote myself:

In our contemporary mentalities, leisure is frequently synonymous with freedom, which makes all the more daring any desire to confine them in a historical study. However, it is not surprising to note that almost all societies have proposed guidelines or regulatory mechanisms to circumscribe free time in space and time. Sometimes denigrated in favor of work, sometimes praised for their beneficial properties, periods of freedom have been greatly influenced by socio-cultural transformations. […] A brief overview of the literature on the theories of leisure reveals the existence of a polarized vision on the role of leisure in societies. Indeed, leisure can be as much associated with the hope of better tomorrow as becoming the precursor symbol of the decadence of societies. […] As a landmark, St-Augustin and St-Thomas-d’Aquin shared a similar vision of the work / leisure relationship. Indeed, these two theologians perceived leisure as a moment of relaxation necessary for the man between his periods of work. More specifically in Quebec, the Catholic clergy of Quebec had kept until the twentieth century the idea that leisure was a secondary time vis-à-vis work. these two theologians perceived leisure as a moment of relaxation necessary for man between his periods of work. More specifically in Quebec, the Catholic clergy of Quebec had kept until the twentieth century the idea that leisure was a secondary time vis-à-vis work. these two theologians perceived leisure as a moment of relaxation necessary for man between his periods of work. More specifically in Quebec, the Catholic clergy of Quebec had kept until the twentieth century the idea that leisure was a secondary time vis-à-vis work.

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