A news report
from the Medford News indicates that Oregon State University researchers including Tim Holt are investing in the development of serious game mods for scientific research, communication, and educational purposes.
According to the report, the University is taking existing games, and re-engineering them to suit other needs, effectively 'modding', thus allowing for the creation and utilization of complex software without having to “re-invent the wheel”.
"This idea of serious games is pretty new but it's attracting interest quickly," commented Tim Holt, a senior research assistant in the OSU College of Forestry. "Using one of the same games that I'm working with for forestry, some people in Texas created a game that helps surgical nurses train for work in an operating room environment.”
He added: "It's an art to look at an existing game and see what underlying elements it has that you could use to illustrate something else." The report does concede that the use of software originally developed for entertainment does have risks when that same game is re-imagined in the context of being used for scientific or educational purposes. "One of the concerns here is that with these games, you can literally show anything and make it look incredibly realistic," Holt said.
He continued: "The action and illustrations would look real and believable whether or not it's based on good underlying science. So for scientific and educational uses, we must take care that the game be an accurate reflection of good data and science, not just a tool for propaganda."
The report concluded with Holt noting that the idea of taking existing products and changing them suit other needs for a fraction of the cost of developing a similar tool from scratch is something that he thinks will "spread pretty quickly."