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Serious Games Li-Te Cheng Google Ben Sawyer Digitalmill “Serious games” is the term used to describe the increasing application of video game technologies in nonentertainment domains. From their beginnings in entertainment, video games have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that has helped advance the state of the art in computer graphics, user interaction, and computational software and hardware. With these advances, new stake olders h began adapting both the technologies and media of video games for training, simulation, education, health, and other uses and areas. The initial wave of serious games focused on helping students and profes- sionals learn and train. Today, health may be the fastest-growing category of serious games, with applications focused on therapeutic and health behavior change efforts. In addition, a third wave of experimentation is under way to not only educate, exercise, and train people but shape and improve their output and productivity. As in Orson Scott Card’s 1985 science fiction story, Ender’s Game (in which game play manipulates actual military actions), a new generation of serious games focuses on innovative crowd sourcing activities that tackle real- world scientific, organizational, and social challenges through video game play. Serious games are best understood as a medium of many design, engineering, and technical domains rather than a single specific technology. Although diverse, they share a history as games for entertainment and education. The resulting diverse repertoire includes models, interactive techniques, and aesthetic methods to motivate and support players toward outcomes beyond the emotional experience derived from being entertained. The speakers in this session present developments in the serious games field to show that video games and their technologies represent a new strategic tool for engineers to use in future projects. 95
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96 FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING There were four speakers in the session, and two of their papers are included in this volume. Richard Marks (Sony Computer Entertainment) talks about get- ting innovative game technology out of the lab into the living room and explains how cutting-edge technology can create new experiences to expand the gaming audience. Phaedra Boinodiris (IBM) illustrates the utility of serious games for businesses in addressing the increasingly complex global environment and offers pointers for the selection and design of a game. At the meeting, Kurt Squire (Uni- versity of Wisconsin-Madison) discussed the serious games space from a national policy standpoint and as an educator. And to indicate how serious science is being achieved with serious games, Zoran Popovic (University of Washington) described his experiences using crowd sourcing games to tackle scientific challenges.