Serious Gaming 'fatally flawed', consultant claims

Serious Gaming 'fatally flawed', consultant claims

By Rob Crossley

July 12th 2011 at 3:49PM

But Gamification is growing in value, says Rick Gibson

Serious Gaming has little potential to survive as a long-term industry business model, a leading games consultant has claimed.

Game Investor Consulting co-founder Rick Gibson claimed that the all-or-nothing practice of building entire applications is the fatal flaw of Serious Games. And, he said, the practice has few success stories.

“Excluding Brain Training, fitness games and some military applications, most serious games have not progressed from academic case studies with a few thousand users to large-scale usage,” Gibson said in his latest Develop Opinion Piece.

“The ‘whole game’ approach, with its roots in boxed product development, may well be the thing to blame,” he added.

“When pitching entire, substantial games on single subjects to non-games clients like governments, serious games companies are effectively asking deeply risk-averse organisations to bet on potentially short-term hits as if they were risk-aware games publishers.

“With apparently few willing to repeatedly fund such punts, this has resulted in a consistently low-value market,” Gibson said.

The UK Department of Transport came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed it spent £2.8 million on a road safety awareness game that flat-lined in popularity for months.

Code of Everand – a Serious Game built in the US – was created to encourage better road safety standards among young people.

In his blog, Gibson says “that car crash was predictable”.

However, the consultant said that Gamification – the process of adding gameplay to just elements of a service or product – has great prospects for future success.

“Gamification is patently not about turning something non-games related into an entire game – that’s the domain of serious games (and, as I’ll argue, its fatal flaw),” he said.

“Gamification cherry-picks discrete elements of games – gameplay mechanisms, community-building principles, marketing methods, analytics – and applies them outside of games.

“Gamification has reached much larger numbers of players and companies faster and with more tangible results.”

Gibson’s full explanation can be found here.