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What is a serious game?

A serious game is a game that is used as a safe learning environment. Game elements (or even a whole game) are used for experiential learning. The game itself makes the learning experience already special, but the most important part of the serious game is the de-brief:

  • What exactly is the learning objective?

  • How did the participants experience the game?

The Serious Gamers have come up with the Wheel of Debrief, to identify from the start what the learning goal of the session is about.

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Wheel of Debrief

2 axes divide the wheel into 4 quadrants:

  • Interactions

  • Practices

  • Thoughts

  • Principles

Each quadrant is further divided into 3 segments. This results in 12 possible main learning objectives. Based on the chosen learning objective, you can pick a game you can use in your learning context. And as far as this game is concerned, there are many possibilities. Let's look at 3 angles for selecting the game you want to use.

Using or hacking an existing game

A lot of existing commercial games can be tweaked in such a way that they can be used in a learning context (if at all needed). This can be by slightly changing the rules, adding extra game elements, or whatever way suits you best. In other words: why re-invent the wheel if the wheel already exists?

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There are plenty of examples of games that can be used. To name a few:

  • Story cubes

  • Dixit cards

  • Team 3

  • Black Stories

  • The Mind

  • ...

A specific/custom serious game

There are also games that are developed with learning in mind. With Koen in the team, we have some good examples - mainly in the context agile and DevOps - of games specifically developed for learning purposes. Check out Koen's web site (SimuLearn) for some examples.

Lego® Serious Play®

With Sven part of the team, we couldn't ignore Lego® Serious Play® (Sven is certified facilitator). Lego® Serious Play® differs from serious games in the sense that you don't play by a set of game rules. Instead the participants use their imagination to build a model with bricks, a 3 dimensional metaphor for the question that was asked, the problem that needs to be solved.

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