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Serious Game theory: 7 Serious Game elements

The Serious Gamers see a clear need to help people better understand what transforms playing a (fun) game into a full learning experience. As a starting point we let ourselves be inspired by the book Gamestorming, which does a good job of describing 5 game elements.

Preview, higher resolution as PDF-download above

We added two new elements and made some slight tweaks to existing ones. We hope this solves confusion that seems to come up when presenting the original 5 game elements.
Let us run you through:

  1. Boundaries
    How many players can join, are observers allowed or even required, how much time will be needed for a full experience, what’s the minimum time to spend on debrief, can this only be played outside, etc.
  2. Invite
    How do you seduce or trigger people to become players, does it address one of their challenges to solve, will sharing too much here spoil the gameplay, etc.
  3. Game World
    The ‘world’ you ask players to enter, suspending the normal world and rules for some time, creating a psychological safe space where failure may occur, experiments can be run and new behavior may be tried, etc.
  4. Goal
    What are the players striving for, how do they know if the game ends, which way can they tell if someone won, when do we close the game world again, etc.
  5. Materials
    What do the players interact with, which metaphors are the materials representing, is it allowed to include items not specifically supplied, can they modify or break the provided materials, is there a score board, etc.
  6. Rules
    How do we play, what rules are added or changed from normal life, how to interact with each other and the materials, which behaviors are considered cheating, etc.
  7. Debrief
    Never skip or rush this, as this is the deciding factor that makes something a serious game! What did players objectively observe, how did they (subjectively) feel, which metaphors did we spot, in what way do they relate to our normal work, did we recognize interactions and dynamics from other situations, etc.

A serious game is an excuse for a debrief!

Dirk Jan Bolderheij

A less visual version -but with descriptions- can be found below.

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