Serious Games

A Look at the 2011 International Serious Play Award Winners

Serious Play Conference LogoThe winners of the inaugural International Serious Play Awards were announced recently, at the first annual Serious Play Conference which ran August 23 to 25, 2011, at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA.

Selected by a panel of 20 experts in the field of serious and training games, the finalists represented outstanding examples of corporate, military, health care and educational game titles. The winners of gold, silver and bronze medal designations were chosen during the conference. Read More...

Along with commercial titles, which were eligible to receive the Serious Play Certification and the 2011 Seal of Approval, professional and emerging development studio submissions as well as entries from students were also welcomed to take part in the award process. Student awards were sponsored by Microsoft.

Earning the Best of Show title and a Gold Medal designation was Air Medic Sky One, created by the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands—one of 13 international submissions. This patient safety game uses biofeedback sensors in training doctors. With the game they learn new techniques and discover how physiological responses can affect their performance.

Other Gold Medal winners were also announced. Military game Aircraft Marshalling Virtual Trainer, by Heartwood, teaches air marshalling techniques to new Canadian Air Force trainees. The virtual trainer uses motion-sensing technology to translate real-life body movements into on-screen virtual actions, as an on-screen instructor leads trainees through a series of lessons.

Gamestar Mechanic Features a Colourful Cartoon-like PresentationGamestar Mechanic Features a Colourful Cartoon-like PresentationEducational title Gamestar Mechanic, presented by E-Line Media, is a community-based online game that teaches the principles of video-game design to kids ages 7 to 14. The game offers a learning guide for teachers or parents. It is based on research by academics in the field of games for learning, including Katie Salen, Executive Director of the Institute of Play and curriculum author for the New York City district 2 public school Quest To Learn, and James Paul Gee, author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.

Another educational game that received the honour was RoboMath, developed by Project Whitecard in collaboration with Virtual Heroes for the Canadian Space Agency. The game features a realistic depiction of the International Space Station centered on the STS-127 mission. Students assemble a platform on the station while applying grade 5/6 curriculum-specific math concepts needed for its completion. RoboMath is also voiced in French and English by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette.

Motion Math HD by Motion Math Inc. was categorized as a consumer game for the iPad developed at the Stanford University School of Education. The educational game follows a star that has fallen from space and must find its way to return by using fractions. Through the game kids will improve their ability to perceive and estimate fractions in multiple forms.

Last but not least, the student entry Rigglefish was presented by Texas A&M University and developed in collaboration with the University of Louisiana, Lafayette's Center for Innovative Learning and Assessment Technologies. In this educational game, students play as a geneticist developing a source for Omega X, a fatty acid that can protect against a deadly bioweapon with the Rigglefish being one source. Players will have to find ways to create different breeds of the species, using observation and testing of the fish's genetic make-up.

Winning Silver Medal awards included McGraw-Hill Education Practice Marketing, developed by McGraw-Hill Education International and Muzzy Lane. This is an interactive educational tool which gives students a practical understanding of marketing.

Fate of the World, a strategic social-impact game developed for PC by Red Redemption which puts players up against a planet ravaged by climate change in a bid to save the world.

Play True Challenge, from the World Anti-Doping Agency, is an online flash-based adventure "game for good" launched at the first Youth Olympic Games in August 2010. In it, players will begin to perform in the sport of JumpCross and interact with coaches, teammates, doctors and others. They will have to make decisions about their performance and whether to cheat with doping. The game is available in multiple languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian.

SpaceChem Teaches Players to Build Complex Machines 

SpaceChem Teaches Players to Build Complex MachinesSpaceChem, presented by Zachtronics Industries, is a design-based puzzle game about building machines to fight monsters, all in the name of science. Players will construct elaborate factories to transform raw materials into valuable chemical products. To meet production quotas and survive encounters with the threats that plague SpaceChem, they will have to streamline their designs.

A student entry, the game for good Emergency Birth was presented by the Engender Games Group Lab of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Developed for the OshKosh online nursing program the game also educates those supporting women in communities that may not have access to a doctor to help them give birth. A beta version of the game is available here.

The awards last student entry, Treadsylvania was developed for at-home learning by the Learning Games Lab at New Mexico State University. This web-based game is designed to help learners ages 8 to 18 understand how to ride All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) safely in a fun and visually appealing format.

Finally, the Bronze Medal winners included:

- Educational title Distraction Dodger, by Web Courseworks

- Educational language role-playing game MiddWorld Online, by Middlebury Interactive Languages and Muzzy Lane

- Educational/serious game Waterkeepers, from the First Nations Education Steering Committee 

- At-home learning title Game for Science, by CREO

- Social-impact game Primaires Ă  Gauche, from Le Monde

- At-home learning game Virulent, from the Morgridge Institute for Research

- Consumer game International Racing Squirrels, by Playniac

- Government/military game Devil's Advocate, by the Retro Lab at the University of Central Florida