Around the Web with Serious Games – Help for ADHD Kids, Business ROI & Serious Games, and the Future of Education

Designing Digitally


On those rare days when we’re in between development projects with clients and not sprucing-up our new office HQ, we like to surf the Web and see what’s happening out there in the wider world regarding our industry. It’s definitely an exciting time in the realm of serious games – business and education experts are really starting to “get it” about the value of these tools for training and inculcating procedural protocols and best practices in many fields.

The fact that we’re reaching a tipping point of sorts where “computer literate” workers outnumber those without that skillset is a very good thing. As younger workers continue to join the workforce, “digital games literacy” will become status quo as well – these employees moving forward will be the ones who will benefit greatly from the safe, controlled, consistent teaching & training inherent in serious games.

Meanwhile, a cursory search of the Web found plenty of interesting material about the development and uses of serious games in different industries. Here are three we found particularly fascinating.

Video Games for ADHD Students in Finland

Ville Tapio runs a private psychiatry center in Helsinki, Finland and has been addressing the concern of many doctors about giving child patients drugs to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Instead, Dr. Tapio is getting his patients to play video games that can actually change how their brains work, using a technique known as gamified neuroplastic therapy. The fact that the wildly popular online game, Angry Birds, originated in Helsinki may have given them some understanding of the potential with video games.

As the article on MOTHERBOARD reports, “… using games to change people’s brains for health reasons is an ambitious and relatively new concept. Still, Helsinki has the scientists and the gaming companies—Angry Birds developer Rovio is just one—to give the idea a proper look. Now, researchers also have cash: Tapio's company Mental Capital Care received 790,000 euro in funding from Finnish investment board Tekes last year to test out a game designed to cure the symptoms of ADHD.”

A great idea is born and we wish Dr. Tapio the best of success, especially since this research could help a lot of young people who have trouble learning in conventional settings. Learn more about DR. Tapio’s work by following this link.

Can Serious Games Reinvent Businesses?

We found this intriguing interview with Luke Hohmann – the founder of Conteneo and creator of Knowsy® - on the Business 2 Community website. Hohmann discusses using serious games to solve business problems such as figuring ROI for investments, and how such game-playing engages teams and encourages teamwork in a way that’s never really happened before in the business world – right down to the chemical level in our brains.

As Hohmann explains it to B2C, “A serious game is a game that we play to solve a business problem as opposed to any other kind of game typically played for entertainment purposes …When I play a serious game, I’m trying to solve some kind of a business problem like managing a complex sale or developing a product-marketing plan …The reason serious games are becoming so popular is because we’re learning that when people are playing games, their brain is literally in a different state. When you’re playing a game like Angry Birds, tiny amounts of dopamine are released every time you achieve the next level in the game or create a new high score. This dopamine, in turn, makes you happy and motivates you to play more – achieve the next level, reach a new high score …Our collaborative games-based approach to making these choices leaves you and your entire team feeling energized because in the game you can explore both ROI and non-ROI factors to selecting your social media investments. When you achieve the goal, you’re going to feel great about the result, because along the way the game will induce your brain to release some dopamine while you’re playing.”

Talk about positive reinforcement! And yes, that was the second and final reference to Angry Birds in this blog post, we promise. 

Forbes Online Announces that the Future of Education Is Already Here – with Serious Games

Who’d have thought that the founder of Atari, Inc. AND Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theaters would also wax philosophic about the future of education incorporating technology, although one could argue that there’s a connection between Nolan Bushnell’s past work with video games and pizza hang-outs for kids with his latest endeavor – Brainrush, makers of learning games for students and teachers. Bushnell’s visionary stance is that technology tools such as laptops and notebooks in schools can help kids at all levels of learning to enjoy their lessons more fully, and that serious games have a role to play not only in content provision but in actually making the learning mind work differently.

As he explains to Forbes, “The essence of what’s going on now is the adoption of brain science …It turns out that if you teach in a different way, you can get outcomes that are 10-20 times more efficient and stickier …One of the key factors is here is the adoption of brain science. Getting it involved in the curriculum is massively effective. Not by 20%, not by 50%, but by many multiples of educational efficacy,” says Bushnell. “This is on a trajectory right now that is unstoppable by bureaucracy, but unions, by anything. It’s just going to happen.”

Bushnell also sees the rise of affordable, ubiquitous hardware for schools, easier network connectivity, and pressure on schools to once-again produce graduates with actual job skills as important factors in the equation. Read more about Nolan Bushnell and serious games for the future of education here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour around the Internet concerning serious games. Come back and visit us again – we promise to have more scintillating reading material for you to enjoy. And yes, Designing Digitally, Inc. also designs and creates custom serious games for businesses and educational institutions of all types. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.