Serious games. Many people have a very negative opinion about serious games. There is multiple good reasons for this. First of all, serious games can be, well, serious. Usually the main point of the game is to teach the players something and it has long been the official stand of the educational circles that if learning is fun, you are doing something wrong. Thankfully the attitudes are changing, and there has been some positive signals from varying fields of education that fun might be from now on allowed to exist in the serious games.
Testing serious games has some major differences when compared to traditional games. The main difference is that the game has to be tested from the viewpoint of the educational goal and not the game play itself. If the main point of the game is to teach players about filling their taxes, no matter how good of a game designer you are the level of fun in the game might not reach the same level as entertainment games . On the other hand, the game might still teach how to operate with taxes very well, so even though the entertainment value is not optimal it still achieves the goal very well.
The other thing to consider is how well the game is suited for the target audience. This is of course on important factor when developing entertainment games, but for example if you are creating games for rehabilitation or for elderly people, you will have to test how well the game is suited for the target audience. The best way is naturally to test the game with the real users, but if this is not possible you should try to put yourself in their shoes and try to visualize how the game would work.
There are some key issues to concentrate on while doing serious games testing. Some main point are following:
- What is the target group for the serious game
- What is the main educational goal of the game
- Is there some limitations or restrictions you need to take into account
- How well does the game manage to fulfill the needs of the educational content
- Was there problems or design flaws that would prevent the real target group from playing the game
(The activities and assignments of this module are available in the full version of the course)