Serious games are games used to effectively and efficiently teach different levels of students using simple graphics (Charsky, 2010). They are games designed for a specific goal other than the purpose of entertainment. Serious games are a form of interactive computer-based game software where one or multiple players engage with a design carrying more than entertainment in mind (Ritterfeld, Cody, & Vorderer 2010). They are increasingly evolving as a mainstream method for accomplishing key objectives for different initiatives especially the educational domain (Martin, & Fetzer 2014).
James Gee, a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education at Arizona State University, defines serious game environments as situated learning because players are placed in a real problem-solving space.
Serious games comply with a constructivist learning approach that is commonly adopted in education today (Boyle, Connolly & Hainey 2011). A constructivist approach requires students to conduct activities in which they build personal experiences of theories taught at school. This approach allows students to create truth and transforms knowledge from being a theory to being a tested fact (Gardner 1999). CLE (Constructivist Learning Environments) are replications of activities, tools, socio-cultural rules, and community expectations that teachers use throughout the learning process (Jonassen, & Rohrer-Murphy 1999).
Serious games can be one of the tools that allow students to experience different theories inside the classroom. Scientists have been working with technology to create learning environments for more than 30 years. For example, Papert started in 1980 with Logo, a programming language and a game that teaches students math by allowing them to input different math parameters “programming” that results in a specific movement to a digital or robotic turtle (Papert, 1980).
Technology is the new culture and we need to enrich it in order to offer the future generation a better environment of which they learn from. Serious games are part of the digital content used today to improve the digital learning space. It proved to increase retention of information, problem solving skills, self-efficacy, declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge for students. Moreover, students prefer video games as a learning environment compared to traditional ways of learning inside schools. This is because children today are digital natives who spend a large amount of their daily life in the digital space.
Boyle, E., Connolly, T. M., & Hainey, T. (2011). The role of psychology in understanding the impact of computer games. Entertainment Computing, 2(2), 69-74.
Charsky, D. (2010) From edutainment to serious games: A change in the use of game characteristics. Game and Culture, 5, 177-198.
Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Basic Books.
Jonassen, D. H., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(1), 61-79.
Martin, J., & Fetzer, M. (2014). Serious games. Training, 51(5), 43.
Papert, Seymour. (1980) Mindstorms :children, computers, and powerful ideas New York : Basic Books.
Ritterfeld, U., Cody, M., & Vorderer, P. (2010). Serious games Taylor and Francis.