After finally outgrowing the early years of hype, serious games are finally emerging as a professional field of interest with its own milestones and achievements. But does this shift towards maturity also provide a fair outlook on the future of gaming?
The interest field of serious games has always been fighting for its existence since its emergence. Of course this is to be expected as serious games are routinely pointed out as the new kid on the block or the latest hype. In line with the label, the field of serious games has had its start-up issues evidenced for instance in the proliferation of different labels to indicate roughly the same interest field such as game-based learning, persuasive games or the latest fad: gamification.
However, recent news shows a certain shift towards the acceptance of the use of serious games, especially in the educational system. One explanation can perhaps be found in the increase of purchasing new ICT tools to support the education. In line with the great demand in the 80s and 90s for the presence of a personal computer in every classroom, it is nowadays accepted to pursue a school environment with an iPad for every student of the school.
In combination with the aforementioned gamification hype, playing games as a part of our daily routine whether it is on school or elsewhere could be a realistic and accepted form of interaction in the near future. The first TED-talks on the shift towards a new generation G (the “G” stands for gaming I suppose) have already been presented, including a strong advice to give up on the idea of reading a book on a lazy Sunday and instead get involved in playing games with your kids.
And this is not just a singular movement but has also been pressed by the main players (no pun intended) of the field. Microsoft (Xbox 360), Sony (Playstation) and even Google are investing heavily in creating a continuous experience of gameplay. Game Now, Game Everywhere, Game Always!
It may seem a strange conclusion coming from a serious game advocate such as myself but should we strive for such a situation? Is it really desirable to create a world in which gameplay is the common demeanor?
Perhaps it is time for a shift in attitude. Not a shift towards continuous gameplay but a shift towards maturity. Let’s take a step back, reassess our efforts, and start applying games when and where they are actually needed instead of bombarding our audience with gamification everywhere (log in! gather points! invite your friends! etc.!). Let’s do ourselves and our profession a favor and let’s take playing games serious.