Entertainment Games that are also Serious Games
(3 minute read)
While all Serious Games fundamentally share the property of driving outcomes by playing within the Magic Circle, Serious Games can be very visually different in its form and structure, because the Games have a bespoke design to suit specific types of topics and problems. With evolving technology, it potentially enables the modelling of complex scenarios with multiple layers of data. With richer data sets, we can arrive at better solutions and conclusions. Technology also enables us to create experiences that are more realistic and immersive, which potentially helps with the authenticity of player behaviour in the Magic Circle.
“This War of Mine” is a war survival video game produced by Polish game development company, 11 Bit Studios, released in 2014. Unlike in the previous example of wargaming, where the focus was on the war, the developers wanted to educate players on the effects of way by focusing on the civilian experience of war.
In this game, you must help a group of civilian survivors get through the months, managing the resources one would need for basic survival such as food, sleep, medication, etc. To restock your limited resources, you send your survivors out to nearby areas to search for more resources. While doing so, you are presented with multiple moral dilemmas, such as deciding whether to help out a woman not from your group who is cornered by a soldier.
Again, the Magic Circle exists: most players who are playing from the comfort of their homes are not likely ever in this lifetime to actually experience the struggles of actual war, but this allows them to have a more realistic glimpse of it.
What I also wanted to highlight about This War of Mine is that it is an Indie Game that gained a fair amount of reputation in the entertainment space. Yet, it can be considered a Serious Game since the primary objective of the developers was to educate players on the survivor experience. It did not, however, suffer or cut-back in the effort in making the game engaging. Rather, the gameplay and aesthetics were carefully selected to enhance the experience in order to achieve its primary objective of education.
In the next and final section of this series, I will be finally going into the various definitions associated with Serious Games, such as Edutainment, Gamification, and more.