Gaming Beyond Entertainment

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Games are considered play, which, to some people, makes them childish by nature, but that’s not always the case. There are those who blame gaming with the corruption of youth and are quick to point their fingers at violent games like Grand Theft Auto instead of investigating the real cause behind the problem. On the other side, there are those who use gaming to help people. In fact, researchers have found that games can be used to help alleviate pain and lead to quicker recovery times. Really, the true nature of gaming is deeper than just entertainment to some people, it’s also an escape for what may not be the existance in which they want to reside. That’s what games like Earthquake in Zipland are for.

Earthquake in Zipland is a computer game that was designed to help children deal with their parents divorce. In this game, the main character, Moose, is charged with the task of re-uniting two islands that were seperated by an earthquake. On either island is the King and Queen, and it’s actually impossible to re-unite them. The idea is that children will play the game and, through parallels, come to grips with what is happening in their own world. This could also possibly open up lines of communication between children and parents.

These types of games are a lot more common than most people know. As I mentioned earlier, there are games designed to help patients deal with pain. One such game is called SnowWorld, and it’s a partnership between Nvidia and the University of Washington. SnowWorld is a 3D, virtual reality, trip through an icy canyon where the player can throw snowballs at anything they can see. The notion is that the player becomes so involved with the virtual world that they don’t focus as much on the pain they are experiencing.

These two are perfect examples of what to look for in the future of gaming. Not only are these applications useful, but they go a long way towards improving the image of gaming in general.

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Jari Laru

I would like to introduce one different kind category of serious gaming – team building and leadership training games.

Our product, NoviCraft is a multiplayer 3D game developed for teambuilding and leadership training. It is an awareness tool for trainers, HRD specialists and consultants for assessing, building, and developing leaders, teams and team work in various organizations.

Through the NoviCraft training, we aim to increase individual’s awareness of the social aspects of the team work. Promoting awareness of team processes is essential, since there is more to learning than content knowledge. People may not learn to interact in productive ways just by doing collective work—many times, coaching in how to participate in effective collaboration and problem-solving is needed. It has been found that language plays a crucial role in learning, and for effective learning it is important to encourage participants to engage in certain ways of discussion and collaborative talk.

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