Value Propositions for Serious Games

In order to produce a Serious Game (SG), more often than not, money will be required. The usual way to get money is to convince somebody to give you some in exchange for the finished SG. However, in order to persuade them to part with their money, you will need the other person to see that the game offers something that is of value to them. The term given to this is a “Value Proposition” and while this may well seem like stating the obvious, it is a very important issue for the SG Industry. Or to put it another way, there is no point producing a SG that nobody wants to buy/pay for.
So what exactly is/are the “Value Propositions” that SGs have to offer? This is a very important question, but one that is not easy to answer succinctly, except to say that “It depends…” In fact in appears depend very much on the particular application for which the SG has been developed.
My own particular field of interest is the use of SGs for Health and Fitness applications ranging from the treatment of ill-health all the way through to consumer wellness. In fact, the field is so large that it can be divided in to around 10 different sectors according to the functions performed within them. Examining a selection of different SGs developed for a variety of different functional applications, there are at least 20 different ways identified in which SGs could offer “value”. Perhaps not surprisingly, the types of “value” offered was differed between functional sectors.
A further level of complexity was identified when the person (or stakeholder) paying for the SG is separate and distinct from the end-user. For example a health authority could commission a SG to help members of the public learn about how to takes steps to eat more healthily. Thus, the value that health authority perceives will determine whether or not they pay for the SG; but the members of the public will only engage with the SG if they see some personal benefit in doing so.
Thus, while the answer to the question posed about the “value” that SGs have to offer is “It depends…” for SGs in general, it needs to be addressed individually for each SG if you intention is to try and convince people to pay money for it.
While this post only gives a brief overview of this important issue, a paper is being presented later this month at the SGDA 2012 conference in Bremen (http://sgda2012.eu/?page=program), Germany and full details of the paper are available here: (http://www.springer.com/computer/swe/book/978-3-642-33686-7).

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