SERIOUSLY, GAMERS: Last week's Serious Play Conference definitely opened the eyes of post-Mario generation gamers to how corporations, governments, and research institutions are putting big bucks in "serious" professional development and training games. Half the featured games were serious stuff, from boosting employee productivity to doing an emergency baby delivery. (Thinking an iPhone or Android version would be handiest?) The other half of the games had an education bent. Top stars won by Gamestar Mechanic, RoboMath from the Canadian Space Agency, Motion Math (see below) and RiggleFish (you've got to request a password here.) Full list of awardees here. Hat tip to Gamasutra for good overview of Microsoft's serious game work.
All that seriousness left EdSurge friend Tony Wan pondering what seems like a gaming conundrum: serious games ultimately aim to plunge people more deeply in the reality of a job or training. Most classic gamers were drawn to gaming as an escape from reality. Where's the middle ground? Everyone agrees that games--serious or otherwise--need to be "engaging." Just as the violence of Grand Theft Auto may turn off some, classic gamers may also be wary of games that deliberately teach or feel like "choose-your-own-adventure" books glammed up in Flash. Bottom line: for edtech games to woo big audiences, the sheer entertainment value probably needs to outweigh its all-too-good educational intentions. What do you think? Tell us everything here.