My last post complained about being shut down on several LinkedIn groups because I disagreed with the poster. This is one of the articles that apparently needed to be protected by flagging my post.
This group defines gamification, serious games, and simulation like this:
The term gamification refers to the process of adding game-like concepts and abilities to various applications in order to make them more enjoyable for the user.
A serious game incorporates the same types of gamification elements into a traditional video game that’s designed specifically for learning, marketing or a number of other educational purposes.
A simulation, on the other hand, will mimic a real-life challenge that a student may eventually have to face within the workplace.
Here’s my problem with these definitions:
These definitions are not accurate. If I were a new-comer trying to understand the distinction between gamification, serious games and simulations, I’m afraid these definitions would be confusing. They’re also somewhat misleading.
Gamification is the use of game design elements in a non-game context.
It does not have to be for enjoyment. I realize that much of the gamification that is done in the corporate sector is done to increase revenue in one way or another, but educational goals can be quite different. Gamification in education is not about marketing, whereas gamification in business almost always is.
“A serious game incorporates the same types of gamification elements into a traditional video game that’s designed specifically for learning, marketing or a number of other educational purposes.” I find this very confusing. Since gamification is the use of GAME elements, how can a serious GAME be defined as a GAME that uses GAME elements? This a tautology. The generally accepted definition (since 2003) is: Serious games are games design for purposes other than or in addition to pure entertainment. (first coined by Ben Sawyer, the founder of the serious games initiative).
Finally, (digital) simulations are computer programmed implementations of an abstract model. Sivasailam Thiagarajan, (1998) the noted performance training designer said that a simulation is “a representation of the features and behaviors of one system through the use of another” (p.35). A lot of people mistakenly think that simulations necessarily involve a real life situation, but all that is required is that it be an acceptable implementation of a consistent model. The model can be purely imaginary.
Many non-technical people see simulations and games as being distinct, but in fact, all games are simulations, although not all simulations are games. Games are a subset of the class of software known as simulations. What distinguishes games is the addition of an internal (rather than external) goal.
If you are interested in learning more about games and simulations, I recommend my book: A Guide to Computer Simulations and Games. The full table of contents, full-color images, and the glossary are available on our website: http://minkhollow.ca/books/
There’s also an interesting volume that just came out (available free) that is worth a read: http://gamification-research.org/2014/06/edited-volume-rethinking-gamification-out/ (Note: I do not have anything to do with this publication. I am not an author nor am I affiliated with gamificatio-research.org. I just like the essays.)
Finally, unlike the authors of the original post, I welcome discussion (as long as it’s not rude).
Thiagarajan, S. (1998). The Myths and Realities of Simulations in Performance Technology. Educational Technology, 35-41.