The role of “mechanics” in the serious game design process.
Presentation held during the Sino-Dutch conference, March 2015.
In the last few years, there have been many developments in the design and application of serious games, particularly in the field of ‘games for health’. This is possible due to the emergence of new technologies that enable us to better connect with users, for instance through continuous online availability, or to use games for new application areas, through for instance the Kinect and the Oculus Rift.
While it is good to see that these games are being used more than ever, there are still many uncertainties with regard to their effectiveness. This uncertainty is also voiced by the scientific community, as there is no consensus yet about whether games are more effective than traditional materials. This may be due to our perception of games as a black box instead of a rather intricate and interconnected set of mechanics; each mechanic will have an impact on the intended outcome. An important question thus lies with understanding exactly how (and why) these games work.
In this keynote, we will look at the different goals and applications of games for health and their implications on the design of these games. We will do so by looking at three major aspects of a serious game: the intended goal of the game (educational or persuasive learning goals), the way that goal is achieved through the game (the game mechanics) and the target audience (users).