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Looking back on a serious symposium

Last week the KNAW (Roy­al Dutch Acad­e­my of Sci­ence) orga­nized a sym­po­sium on seri­ous games. Some­thing we’re deal­ing with a lot right now, so we checked it out. Here’s some thoughts on what was talked about:

David Shaf­fer was the first speak­er. He made an inter­est­ing point: In order to learn by play­ing, the play­er needs a cer­tain feed­back loop where he reflects on his actions. Sounds log­i­cal, doesn’t come nat­u­ral­ly.

It was inter­est­ing to see oth­er people’s views on the sub­ject. When design­ing “Reg­u­la­tor Ral­ly” (a game on assump­tions) we thought of ways to get the feed­back loop, the reflec­tion on action, in there. The thing is, the exam­ple David showed was about teach­ing peo­ple urban plan­ning. For this, they used a mul­ti-play­er Sim­C­i­ty-like game where all the infor­ma­tion was brought in a more fun way than usu­al. That’s where we, with what we’re doing, tend to take a dif­fer­ent approach. Not use ‘a fun way of urban plan­ning’ to teach some­one ‘urban plan­ning’, but ‘a fun way of play­ing’ that, as an effect with­in the play­ing person’s head, brings insights in urban knowl­edge.

After the speak­ers there was also a dis­cus­sion pan­el of some very inter­est­ing peo­ple that all shared their thoughts on the use of seri­ous games for social change. One of the pan­el mem­bers was Pieter Win­semius. He talked about solv­ing traf­fic prob­lems by turn­ing traf­fic jams into a game: Switch lanes? Pay five euros! He also men­tioned round­abouts as what he thought could be seen as ‘seri­ous games’ in real life. It was fun to see how some­one who’s not into game-design could see the use of gam­ing in such a clear yet applied man­ner. Good per­spec­tive there!

Why roundabouts work Round­abouts and its rules: seri­ous gam­ing?

All in all, this was a per­fect way to spend an after­noon. We learned some things and gained some brain­food.

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  1. Iskander Smit
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 03:31 | Permalink

    Nice notes on the sym­po­sium I also did attend. I agree the focus was a bit too much on the game and not on the effect of play. See my notes here (in Dutch)

    Besides Pieter Win­semius is a smart man of course, he maybe also ben­e­fits of not being biased by the world of games where game design­ers — seri­ous or not — live in? ;-)

  2. Posted November 3, 2010 at 11:46 | Permalink

    Thanks, read your notes as well, nice view. I guess all we can do is make sure there’s enough play to talk about in the future when it comes to seri­ous / applied games ;)

    About Pieter — spot on!