Can games be serious?

In Becoming ruminative in education on September 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM

ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) was in my impression a solely commercialized institute which rates retail games and games for video game consoles. It was not my knowledge that ESRB actually spans their rating to computer games, virtually covering all digitalized gaming. The 281 games rated as edutainment games in ESRB website do draw my attention as to what these games have to offer aside from the purpose of entertainment. The remark “not all serious games are edutainment games, but all edutainment games are serious games” was also intriguing. I thought about the games I used to play growing up as a child and how many of those games I played could be categorized as edutainment games, or serious games per se. According to the author’s definition, a game that provides more than the purpose of entertainment can be serious games. And I really tried hard to recollect traces of cues among the games I have experienced and almost always the games that surfaced to my mind all delivered a message to me during the game play, e.g., the value of friendship; the power of teamwork, or nostalgia. Were these messages intended by the game designers or were they only situational reinterpretations of the player’s game play? Were those messages intended to be educational and thus making the game serious? I must say I am not quite ready to categorize the aforementioned messages I gleaned from game play as one of the prominent outcomes of serious games, i.e., knowledge gain, insight, and deeper understanding. Does a game become serious game when players experience and interpret game play as educational and thus repurpose the game for educational goal? Or do games become serious games only when the game designers intend so and brand it as serious? Nevertheless, acknowledged by the field, it would be futile to find a clear-cut definition for serious games. I reckoned, reading more into the field would help me clear my lingering doubts as to what serious games entail.


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