GLLS2007: Why Serious Games Shouldn't Be Taken Seriously

Why Serious Games Shouldn't Be Taken Seriously
- Thom Kevin Gillespie from Indiana University

"Serious games are silly things"

A kid diagnosed with a reading disability was reading text in a game and the game's thick manual. Another great example of gaming supporting and help children learn to read. This anecdote was one of many that Gillespie provided during the first 25 minutes of his presentation, during a story that traces his career. All the examples that he provided focuses on students and kids creating media and creating content.

MIME Program: Master's in Immersive Media Environments

The program brings it's students to Gillespie's home for gaming (board & video game) events in order to authentic experiences. They start the design process free of computers. This has freed up their creative process. The students create a 10 page pitch and try to attract other students for their team project. The program includes both undergrad and grad students into the pitch and creation process. The process takes up to 3 years to complete the game once the project excepted.

Gillespie has worked with inner city "gang rescue" programs. The students failed at traditional schools, but succeed in creating game design. "I would have taken some of these 15 year old kids into my graduate program if I could have."

What libraries can do:

  • Free game lab, there are a variety of resources including scratch,,,, and others all open source programs; students may start with board games

Develop a game called "Clean It," designed a board game that shows a positive and necessary role of janitors. It was initially conceptualized to help a janitor provide his kids with a positive image of their father.

Gillespie's big take away is that anyone can create games (both board and video games) and tap your communities and let them be creative. Oh, and that Second Life will fail.

EDIT (again): His summary on the program really didn't fit with what he actually presented was nothing like his presentation. While his message was okay, it was hard to pull out. Unfortunately there was not much to take away. Anyone looking for information about Serious Games will be better served visiting Persuasive Games, Water Cooler Games, and Games for Change .