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GDC Roundtable Summary + Post-GDC Followup

Posted By Matthew Lee, Monday, April 9, 2018

The IGDA Serious Games SIG hosted a roundtable session at GDC 2018 called, fittingly enough, the Serious Games Roundtable. It was a productive conversation on the state of the industry, covering the following topics.

What are some of the recent trends developers have observed in Serious Games?

  • Increasing interest in VR/AR.
    • Largely in the space of Military training games and health games

What are some of the issues facing our community today?

  • Funding - always a challenge
    • Money for maintaining and updating a game is rarely available, due to grant funding
    • Designing for big expectations within constrained budgets
  • Security
    • Data security (for health)
    • Obtaining security clearances / finding collaborators with clearances
    • Creating games that don't need to be connected to the internet or use location data (for military developers)
  • Negotiating expectations with clients
    • Can't always ask what they want
    • They often don't know what's possible or practical
    • How do we bridge the gap?
  • Reaching a target audience which isn't familiar with games
  • Incorporating training into gameplay in a fluid manner while still meeting funder expectations / remaining competitive
  • Getting media attention for the work we do
    • Targeted emails to press / collaboration with streamers sometimes works
  • A lack of information on what has been done before in this space
  • Community is fragmented
    • Many different terms for serious games
    • Difficult to find collaborators

Things the Community is looking for

  • The Serious Game Archive: An attempt to gather a list of serious games so developers can reference them when creating their games
  • Research Archive (maybe hosted by the IGDA): A gathering of relevant research on serious game efficacy, evaluation methods, etc
  • Serious Game Dev Directory: A listing of different companies or developers active in this space, along with their area of expertise, credentials, and other useful information
  • Serious Games Dev Handbook: A compilation (wiki?) of effective practices devs have discovered and want to share
  • Funding Guide? (Gets brought up most years)
  • More GDC Presence - great interest in seeing a Serious Games Summit at GDC, but how would one go about organizing that?

Exciting New Developments

  • A west coast Serious Games Conference
  • The rise of a new Serious Games organization in the ANZ region

SIG Specific Things

  • Join the slack channel
  • Submit any games for the archive to


Aside from the roundtable, we had a well attended panel on advancing scientific research using games, hosted by our very own Kathleen Yin (now available on the vault), as well as the Serious Games Networking Reception we hosted at Google SF. Thank you for being part of our community and let us know what we can do to help!

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GDC Announcements: Community Leadership Award Finalists & More

Posted By Matthew Lee, Tuesday, March 6, 2018
We're just a couple weeks out from GDC 2018, and we have some exciting announcements to share!

First, we are pleased to announce the three stellar finalists for the 2018 IGDA Serious Games SIG Community Leadership Award! This award is presented to an individual or group in the game community who displays exceptional commitment to advocacy and reaching new communities through serious games.

We will announce the winner at the IGDA Serious Games Networking Reception on Tuesday, March 20th at the Google Launchpad. In the meantime, please learn more about the finalists below. Congratulations to all!

- Attila Szantner and Bernard Revaz co-founded Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), an organization that strives to connect scientific research and video games as a seamless gaming experience. The most famous project to date has been Project Discovery in EVE Online, and its followup, "Project Discovery Exoplanets." The first was a collaboration with the Human Protein Atlas, while the second was launched in collaboration with the research team at the University of Geneva (and Professor Michel Mayor, who discovered the first exoplanet in 1995), and Reykjavik University. This mini-game in EVE Online allows players to analyze the luminosity graphs of distant stars and discover new exoplanets, enabling them to take part in citizen science (nonprofessional research). Participants have submitted more than 65 million classifications, and preliminary analysis shows that they have indeed carried out high-quality research. The MMOS co-founders received the prestigious Lovie Award in 2017 for their role in launching "Project Discovery Exoplanets." In 2016, Attila spoke at TEDxLausanne about connecting scientific research with MMOs and education, "putting a part of all the brainpower we spend on video games to good use."

- Jean Leggett and Blair Leggett are the founders of One More Story Games, an indie studio north of Toronto. Since 2014, they’ve been developing StoryStylus, a narrative game authoring platform that aims to make it easy for non-technical storytellers of all ages to create, publish, and monetize narrative games. Jean and Blair have personally instructed over 100 youth in week-long game design camps as well as created and published seven games. They are currently working with #1 NYT bestselling author of The Southern Vampire Chronicles (adapted into HBO's True Blood), Charlaine Harris, to adapt Shakespeare’s Landlord, a novel about an amateur sleuth recovering from PTSD as she investigates a town’s secrets. Jean also recently spoke at TEDxCollingwood about lessons One More Story has learned from developing games with and for children.

-  The Sea Hero Quest Team: British studio Glitchers first developed Sea Hero Quest in 2016 in order to help researchers understand the mental process of 3D navigation, one of the first skills lost in dementia. They collaborated with Alzheimer's Research UK, University College London, and the University of East Anglia (with funding from Deutsche Telekom) to find a way to conduct research on a massive scale and spread awareness about dementia. Sea Hero Quest was named "App of the week" by BT, and it won nine Cannes Lions at the 2016 International Festival of Creativity. To date, over 2.5 million people have downloaded Sea Hero Quest. Most recently, the game has been released in VR with hopes of finding additional insights.

Please join us in congratulating them at the
Serious Games Networking Reception on Tuesday of GDC, and if you're interested, hear what they have to say in our panel on "Scientific Research Using Games: Using Player Power for Good" on Thursday, March 22, from 5:30 - 6:30

Aside from that, we have our annual Serious Games Roundtable at GDC as well. We look forward to discussing the future of Serious Games with all of you!


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The Serious Games SIG @ GDC

Posted By Matthew Lee, Friday, January 19, 2018

Since GDC 2018 is coming up, I thought I'd mention some of the things the SIG will be doing there!

1) Serious Games Roundtable: In partnership with GDC, we're pleased to announce that we will be hosting a general roundtable on the state of serious games, and how we can improve our slice of the industry.

When: Thursday, 22 March 2018, 5:30 - 6:30 PM

Where: South Hall, Street Level - Room 105

Description: The session provides a forum for talking about topics of interest to those working on or serious games or games for change, including discussion of how existing games could incorporate social good elements. Developers and researchers will talk about their experiences with serious game collaborations, offering commentary of what worked well and not so well, and discuss the nuts and bolts of creating such games, from designing in tandem with academic and industrial partners, to the funding mechanisms currently available for such games, and finally, best practices in distribution and promotion. Also to be discussed are questions on preserving serious games, incorporating serious games into gamedev curriculum, and more.

2) Citizen Science Panel: If you're curious about Citizen Science and other ways of using player power for good, Kathleen Yin from the Serious Games Steering Committee, is moderating a panel ( on just that, featuring Amy Robinson Sterling of Eyewire, Attila Szantner of MMOS (one of the people who made Project Discovery in Eve Online possible), and Antoine Coutrot from the Sea Hero Quest team. Details on scheduling TBA!

3) Serious Games Networking Reception: We're throwing a party! That is, following on the success of last year's Serious Games Networking Reception, we're hosting another on March 20th, to be held from 3-6 PM at the Google Launchpad space, in collaboration with the IGDA Game Education SIG. Details (and invitations) will be out soon!

Tags:  GDC  Serious Games 

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