Kerbal Space Program is a great example of what a ‘Serious Game’ could look like and play like, given a great design and development team. Now that it’s finally out of early access it could be time to explore what looks like an incredibly deep game.
The idea that games, however educational, should be games first is echoed in Richard Cobbett’s Eurogamer review:
“Essential manoeuvres like raising and lowering apoapsis and periapsis nodes, and also important concepts, such as what ‘apoapsis’ and ‘periapsis’ mean.” You don’t have to know, but you will eventually have to learn.
Somehow though it never feels like – shudder – edutainment, or at least, no more so than the goofy fun of repeatedly smashing the moon into the Earth back in Encarta’s old Orbit mini-game. It’s always a game first, with the light-heartedness not simply allowing, but openly encouraging insane experiments and ridiculous ships with enough engines to risk moving the planet during blast-off.”
Riot is an example of what ‘Serious Games’ could be when put in the hands of passionate and creative developers working with the medium to express a particular commentary on real world events. From the looks of their blog the project has had its challenges in being realised, but hopefully the game will be launched on Steam later this year.
A trip down memory lane from the BBC. Hopefully the influx of accessible game making tools will see a resurgence in the innovation that kickstarted the British games industry back in the 1970s.
I know he is a divisive figure amongst ‘gamers’ but personally I enjoy hearing the way Jonathan Blow thinks and talks about video games, and I am looking forward to playing the Witness when it finally comes out.
And here is a critical response to his comments from a ‘gamer’
At the end of last year, Holly Gramazio released a small game called Pornography for Beginners, which discusses the new pornography laws that were passed in the UK. Made with Steven Lavelle’s (increpare) PuzzleScript, this is another great example of how new accessible tools are allowing different narratives and discussions to be brought into the gaming medium.
Paperknife is a “psychological exploration game” by Fionn Murray and Tiago Roldão, both Masters students at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
The player takes the role of a Doctor leading a therapy session with a teenage patient who has a phobia of dogs. You make decisions on how to address the patient in order to help them discover the root of their trauma, and these are represented in the distinctive illustrative style of the game.
The first level has been made available for free download.
SIMOGO have released an ‘interactive’ text “The Sensational December Machine” as a Christmas present, which like their previous work Device 6, explores how game engines can be used to present textual and graphic narratives in new, integrated ways.