All About Serious Games: Types and Purposes

Designing Digitally


All About Serious Games: Types and Purposes

The tremendous growth of serious games has touched almost every facet of education. With this expansion, it becomes necessary to delve a little deeper into the different types of serious games, as well as the various structures and purposes that they can have.

Not only are serious games distinguished from other types of learning activities, but also from other eLearning games. Some games are better for certain kinds of training, while other activities are a better fit with another type.

A deeper understanding of the distinctive characteristics that fall under the large umbrella of serious games can be helpful when determining the best method for a given concept.

3 main purposes

Though the term, “serious games” is broad, there are generally three categories to classify the activities.

  • Education. This is  the most obvious category. Games have been used to enhance otherwise dry learning content for quite some time. Games add an element of fun to the learning experience that holds the attention of the learner and causes them to engage more fully with the information presented to them. Within the realm of education are game-based learning, gamification, and simulation.  Educational training is the main purpose for serious games  in a corporate environment.
  • Persuasion. Persuasive games can be used to lead a learner toward a certain conclusion, while still allowing them the freedom to think it through themselves. While this method isn’t as valid for a concrete concept, it is still valuable for teaching critical thinking skills.
  • Health. People with disabilities are the demographic that benefit the most from a health-focused serious game. Sometimes the simple act of attaching badges or rewards to something as seemingly mundane as tracking physical activity can make a huge difference. Some games are designed for those who suffer from physical pain. The process of engaging in the game can serve as a much-needed distraction.

Differing structures

There is another way that serious games can be classified. The structure of games can vary, depending on the objectives.

  • Process-oriented games. Some serious games don’t have a specific end objective. With these types of games, the learning comes through the process of the activity. The types of games that are considered process-oriented include decision-making activities, discovery games, and simulation games.
  • Outcome-oriented games. With these games, the end objective is the main focus. These types of activities are focused on obtaining mastery of a skill. The objective is for the learner to demonstrate a grasp of the information at the end of the activity. These include games where the outcome expected is education, persuasion, or motivation.

Of course, best serious games don’t always fit into neat little boxes. Some activities have more than one objective and others can serve more than one purpose. No two learners are the same and offering a varied approach of education for the training of employees addresses the need to appeal to multiple learning styles. It’s the best method to achieve a well-rounded, well-prepared workforce.

Get in touch with our experts to explore which type of game will work best for your organization.