Sneak peak of new book on games and business

Serious Games Industry has been given an exclusive extract from a new book, Why Games Are Good For Business, by Helen Routledge, Head of Design and Production at Totem Learning.

Routledge says: “It is one of my life goals to make the world more playful. As a Serious Games designer I truly believe games can be leveraged to produce a positive impact on careers, education, our relationships as well as many other areas of our lives.

“Over the past 15 years I have worked on hundreds of Serious Games in many different sectors and I have loved every minute of it. I’ve had many fascinating conversations and I started to notice patterns emerging; the same questions were asked, and the same challenges were raised so I started to think about what I could do to add to the pool of knowledge around this sector.  I often blog for Totem and other websites, and I love to talk about serious games so I was over the moon when the opportunity arose for me to write a book on Serious Games, a book commissioned from the world’s leading publisher of business publications. From day one it was important to me that this wasn’t just another ‘what are serious games and here are some examples’ book. To me this book had to be a practical guide on what they are, why they work and how they are made. The industry is driven by a handful of experts who truly understand how game mechanics blend with instructional theory and conversely it can be damaged by misunderstood applications at the same time.

“My intention was to expose the ‘dark art’ or ‘black box’ of serious game design and development and arm the learning and development community with practical knowledge, highlighting case studies of businesses, charities and other organisations who have ‘been there and done that’ – to share the lessons they have learnt along the way.

“I like to think that the book offers something to everyone; a little bit of history, of theory, of process and of course some future forecasting, but throughout, it always comes back to the practicalities of what does this mean in the real world, to my business and to my learners.”

totem+learning+helenHere is a short extract from the book:

“..Well let’s start by asking one simple question, and I would like you to really think about it, take 30 seconds and just pause before we continue. Being totally honest, have you ever played a game before?

You may never have played a computer game, but have you ever played a board game, a card game, a game of skittles, bowls or cards? Have you ever tried to beat your SatNav on a long journey? Somewhere, sometime, you’ve played a game. What’s more, there’s a good chance it’s done two things; helped you to see something more clearly, and embedded an idea in your brain. The principles outlined in this chapter are not unique to computer games; almost every type of game you can image will share the same principles in greater or lesser quantities.

The main difference here is we’re talking about how we can leverage games for purposes other than entertainment. That is the key differentiator and where the distinction comes from.

Let’s try one more question. This one relates to computer games. Think about the last time you saw or played a game. What would you say was the most interesting aspect of the game to the player?

Could it be the subject matter? The graphics? The characters? The activity? What was drawing the player’s attention into the screen?

Games are complex. They require a balance of behaviorist (rewards, conditioning and habits) and cognitive (understanding of environment, aka memory) constructivist (building blocks scaffolding further knowledge) and humanist (relationship and support networks) learning theory to understand them.

Essentially, what great games do is blend principles of rewards and habit building with chunks (little pieces of data) of knowledge that are embedded into our long term memories.

There are many prejudicial – or just plain wrong – assumptions when it comes to games; games are all violent, they cause anti-social behavior, they are a child’s plaything, they are a waste of time, they are meaningless, they lead to bad behavior and are often demonized by the media! I could go on. However, the world of games is much more complex and multifaceted than first meets the eye.

Games can now be considered an art form, a social platform or as methods to broadcast news or make a political statement. Games in essence are growing up and they are growing up very rapidly indeed.

….when we look at someone playing a game, we often focus on what is happening on screen, or the mildly blank look cast upon the players face. But what is happening ‘behind the scenes,’ so to speak, is a very interesting story indeed. “

Why Games Are good For Business, How to leverage the Power of Serious Games, Gamification and Simulations, by Helen Routledge is published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

About Helen Routledge

With a background and passion in behavioural sciences and psychology Helen has over a decade of experience of applying behavioral and cognitive theories to highly-interactive serious games. Helen’s knowledge of psychology and game mechanics has been applied to an incredibly varied range of solutions including team building, leadership, sales training, IT security, disease control and health. An avid blogger and writer on the subject of serious games design, Helen’s experience has gained her credibility and a name within the industry, as one of the leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs within the sector.

Twitter: @helenroutledge



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