The extensive growth of the SG community in the past decade has generated a large diversity in the scientific research in terms of application domains (business, health, cultural heritage, etc.) and scientific disciplines (design sciences: human-computer interaction; computer science; analytical science: psychology, arts and humanities, social science, etc.), creating a problematically fragmented community. This extended fragmentation has made it difficult to efficiently and effectively exploit existing resources, as well as stimulate the reusability and interoperability potential of the SG community.
To address these issues, it is necessary to create a gateway that optimise access to structured SG resources and that supports reuse practices. Such a gateway will assist the SG community in the exploration of the large and rapidly growing body of literature on SG research, in the assimilation of best practices in SG development and implementation, as well as on reuse providing insights on class libraries, organizational structures, cost models, repository management, knowledge reuse, and many other important issues.
Technology reuse is important in that it dramatically reduces lead-time, efforts and costs in research, development and implementation activities coping with market drivers. But reuse is an interdisciplinary phenomenon that builds on the business considerations one finds in enterprise modelling, the economic analyses of investment, the social analyses of process, and the psychological models of conceptualization, as well as the technical model of design and technology. Even the reuse of data and interpreted data – information – has value. And perhaps the added value does not reside simply in the reuse of artefacts, but in the reuse of knowledge. Knowledge reuse itself is a broad topic ranging from rules and heuristics to procedures and propositions, and even designs.
Considering the multi-facet issue of SG reusability, it has become necessary to establish what exactly are we trying to reuse, and where does the most payoff lie in reuse. The most difficult aspects of reuse are to know how to make something reusable and to know how to match a reuse opportunity to a foreseen solution hidden in a repository somewhere.
The Serious Games Reusability Reference Point (SGREF) aims to enable the collection of references to reusable, standardized, and/ or interoperable SG components and assets, created within the SG community – especially through projects funded at national, European, and international level. SGREF focuses on collecting subsets of the SG project body of knowledge that is generally recognized as good practice in SG development and deployment.
SGREF addresses the factors that inhibit the advancement of reusability technology:
- – Representation technology. There is no representation for any level of software artifact (architectures, requirements, designs, source code, test cases, documentation, reusable data, etc.) that fosters reusability across a wide range of domains.
- – Lack of a clear and obvious direction. There is no specific strategy defined as an approach to optimizing reuse. In the meantime, management is unlikely to define a definite approach until a “best path” is fairly obvious. It is clear, however, that reuse is a multi-organization problem and it requires massive work before there is a considerable payoff.
- – The “Not invented here” syndrome. This is a relatively easy problem to solve, at least for programmers. The issue depends on management’s criteria of rewarding reuse. Once management establishes the proper culture, developers rapidly learn that reuse does not inhibit their creativity. They are now free to attack more challenging problems. Once this fact is realized, resistance to reuse often disappears.
- – High initial costs. Absence of reusable library components prevents reuse technology from spontaneously arising. This effort requires a large commitment and thereby, considerable initial and recurring costs [BIGG87]. Note the difference in viewpoint of a producer and a consumer of reusable software artifacts.
The SGREF also aims to fundament cross-domain resource reusability and interoperability. Moreover, this reference point could be used to identify gaps and fragmentation between research and industry, as well as sources that stimulate innovation and creativity. Decision-making in the SG community can be enhanced based on the information provided by the SGREF.