Introduction to Serious Games
1: Inspiring & Collaborating

Module 1: Inspiring & Collaborating sets the tone for starting from a place of inspiration and intent in serious games development. Serious games are notably distinct in that they bring together game developers with subject matter experts who may or may not be familiar with game design. Getting from hope for a certain outcome to successful implementation depends on starting off right and carrying through with genuine collaboration and ongoing iteration.

Week 1: What's Out There

1: Circle of Introductions
Let’s all get on the same trajectory with the meaning of the words we choose to use and where we’re coming from. Serious games are unique in that they have an intended meaningful outcome brought about through play and they are developed in collaboration with subject matter experts. Thus, serious games are defined just as much by what they are as how they are made. Be sure to check out Guidelines and Grading.

Game Design Glossary  

2: From Edutainment to Serious Games to Transformational Games
Making a meaningful game hinges on aligning core mechanics, target audience, and distribution strategies. Let's discuss existing serious games, their level of impact, and our hopes for this kind of work.

"A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Evidence on Computer Games and Serious Games"
"From Edutainment to Serious Games: A Change in the Use of Game Characteristics," Dennis Charsky

Assignment: Reflection - 5%
Write a statement of at least 300 words explaining your areas of interest and how serious games relate. If you are interested in more reading, check out the Recommended Reading List.

Week 2: Expertise

1: Be an Expert
The best way to come up with game ideas is to just jump in and starting making things or get your hands on materials, games you enjoy, or in interactions where you can talk to other people working on games. Inspiration starts off well with enjoyment. What’s the part that comes to mind? Whether it’s a character, a story, a mechanic, an experience, evoking a certain emotion, or a message you want to convey, you should have a solid starting point. I use tools like Pinterest to gather resources together because I'm very visually oriented. When I was developing a board game, I looked at other board games first. When I was writing a paper about the social impact game Survivance, I gathered together resources to compare my work with other existing work. You can also approach it from a topics gathering perspective like I am for Spacecanoe. Whether you try Pinterest or gather resources in another way, reference materials are an incredible way to develop concepts into actionable game design.

"Genius or Elimination: Where Do Good Game Ideas Come From?"
"Juice It or Lose It," Martin Jonasson and Petri Purho

2:  Know What You Need
In general, it’s best to work with a team when you’re developing a game. For the purposes of this course, you can either work individually or form a team with other students or even with people outside of this course. Do what works for you right now. The best we can do is identify what our skills are and how we can contribute to a game, and thus know where we need help. Online communities and local communities like Spartasoft can be great resources for working with other people. Your first work together will be starting to think about what you're going to prototype and how.

Read Game Development Tools

Week 3: Education

1: Education Games
Tune in for a lecture on serious games with an education focus.

"Educational Games: The Big Picture," Sande Chen
The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter by Greg Toppo
Institute of Play

2: Development Examples
Tune in for a lecture on the development processes of serious games with an education focus.

"GlassLab Game Design Handbook" by GlassLab Games
"Indigenous Game Design in The Gift of Food Board Game," Elizabeth LaPensee
Filament Games

Assignment: Game Choices - 5%
Before you work on your own game, it's super helpful to look at work other people have done before you. Write a short statement about the three games you want to play and compare.

Week 4: Awareness

1: Awareness Games
Tune in for a lecture on serious games with an awareness focus.

2: Development Examples
Tune in for a lecture on the development processes of serious games with an awareness focus.

Week 5: Transformation

1: Transformational Games
Tune in for a lecture on serious games with a transformational/impact focus.

"Survivance Among Social Impact Games," Elizabeth LaPensee
Impact with Games
Games for Change

2: Development Examples
Tune in for a lecture on the development processes of serious games with a transformational/impact focus.

Assignment: Draft Review - 10%
Write a draft review that will eventually end up as a review of least 1,000 words comparing and contrasting the serious three games you played. What are the core mechanics? What are the intended outcomes or takeaways from the games? Who is the target audience? Consider features such as: Are they replayable and does that matter in the context of the game's intentions? Also look at who made the game. Who is making these games? Who is funding these games? How do insights from playing these three games influence your future work?