Hunting for Fun – The Serious Games Challenge

Mary Matthews

By Mary Matthews, Strategy and Business Development Director, TruSim (Blitz)

My Thoughts

A short session (so few notes) on how to add the fun into a game. Interesting theory and practice of doing it for the TruSim triage game.


TruSim is the heritage of a fun-making game company, but moving into serious games now rather then entertainment games. A prime example of collaboration between industry and universities, since it requires research and analysis. Also some funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

But where is the fun? EG: Triage Trainer – an accident, need to prioritise patients. Compared to more standard learning, was much more effective. The game design was easy from the triage gameplay since it is a lot like a branching game design tree how to deal with patients.

Infection control. Very complicated learning objectives – so where to add the fun?

Back to basics: Challenge > Risk > Reward. Your reward is enjoying being there and doing well, don’t even have to complete the game. Need to make it less complicated, since if you cause players to stop playing it’s lost the point.

Immersion is very important in all cases. High fidelity and quality raises it for normal games, but for educational games need the appropriate level of fidelity – in the case of the triage game, it’s going to need to be realistically portrayed. For the infection control a much more accessible toned down reality was used.

The challenge of the infection game (which was made to do behavioural change in the end) is to maintain ward hygiene and help others in maintaining that. The risk is losing the battle for hygiene, professional pride risked. Reward is winning the infection battle and the satisfaction of doing so.

Going back to the client with this information can be troublesome. Media literacy in games is not as good as film and TV. At the moment there’s a lot to learn for clients to understand.

Teaching the right thing with the games? MRSA is more political, so isn’t it a bit of a problem if that isn’t as effective as managing time with patients rather then managing staff?

It’s the client which is important, and need to drill down where to work on. Beyond the prototype stage would expand the areas of a game, such as post-triage for the triage game. Need to serve the clients needs.

Where are the designers for TruSim coming from? (IE: Entertainment designers cut out a lot to make it fun, serious games are different)

From the Blitz Academy and internal to the company for starters. Learning embedded in the company – no training at the moment, still learning.

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