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Animation World Analyzes Serious Games Potential

A report by Animation World Magazine takes a look at the growing interest of game developers in the world of serious games. The article, written by game producer Christop...
A report by Animation World Magazine takes a look at the growing interest of game developers in the world of serious games. The article, written by game producer Christopher Harz, touches on several topics concerning serious games, as well as detailing a number of the more popular contributions to the field. Harz reports that the 'serious games' industry as a whole is set to exceed $100 million in revenue this year, noting that it presents a new creative outlet for animators (the magazine's target audience) as well. Harz also breaks down the topic of serious games into a number of smaller categories, all of which are used for one form of training or another. Categories include titles sponsored by the military and government, games centered around healthcare, and some involving emergency management. He also touches on certain niche titles concerning topics such as yoga and exercise. Many of the games brought up in the article include those which have been raised on this site before, such as Pulse!!, a virtual, clinical-training tool for medical and nursing students that plays much like popular first-person shooters for the PC, and the online community of Second Life. The article also goes into detail concerning the most successful serious game to date, America's Army, which began life as a $8 million PR tool produced by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California to entice possible new recruits. The game has grown to include more than six million online players and is supported with nearly $10 million in annual upgrades. The game has also made the leap to the home console market, seeing versions released for both the Xbox and PlayStation 2. The most interesting topic deals with the fact that, while costs associated with developing mainstream games are expected to skyrocket over the next-generation, companies have begun to see serious games as a way to develop titles on a smaller budget. In so doing, they can stimulate cashflow, while at the same time creating something worthwhile for society. However, while many industries have begun to give serious games more credit when it comes to their potential for benefit, Harz indicates that schools, both K-12 and universities, have been slow to adopt the use of games in the classroom. The reasons for this include the fact that teachers do not yet trust games, which have been historically associated with entertainment, as a being a teaching tool. Another reason could be that some 'serious games' often take several hours to complete, much longer than the average classroom session, according to Harz. More information is available by reading the complete overview article by Harz, who has worked both on video games and on war gaming projects at the RAND Corp.

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