The Relationship Between Games, Serious Games, Simulations, Educational Simulations, and Virtual Worlds

Games, Serious Games, Simulations and Educational games all share the same word, play. They all l feature some type of interaction within a ‘game space.’ All of these game types allow players the ability to learn or use a particular set of tools, motions or ideas to a point. There are a couple of different ideas and controversy about what a game actually is and the relationship between the different types. This is my interpretation of the relationship between games from reading some of those ideas.

Clark Aldrich in his article Virtual Worlds, Simulations and Games for Education describes the different game types. He says that entertainment games are more fun flappy-bird-what-happens-when-you-reach-high-score-999-videoand engaging activities. They are played in virtual worlds structured by specific rules and constraints, and are different to simulations because they aren’t as defined. For example, “FlappyBird” can be seen as a entertainment game as it has no further goals than entertainment and achievement. It also has a high level of constraints that aren’t defined as useful simulations.

Simulation games use structured scenarios that are designed to develop Kognito_MHA_At_Risk_Product_Snapshotknowledge that can be used in the real world. Educational Simulations would take that further with a highly refined set of rules, challenges and strategies that develop understanding in a specific area for educational purposes. For example “At Risk” is taken through a simulation of being a faculty member who is concerned about five of his students. At Risk uses this simulation to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness in order to reduce the number of students with undetected or untreated conditions.

Aldrich says that “Virtual Worlds are three-dimensional, persistent social secondlifeenvironments, with easy-to-access to building capabilities.” So they share the open and infinite possibility game environment but they rarely have specific set goals that you must follow. For example the virtual world game “Second Life” allows you to experience a three-dimensional world with social interactions that is infinite is creative possibilities.

Martens (2008) identifies Serious Games as the combination of learning games, entertainment games and simulation games taking from three key elements: learn, play and simulate. Which is supported by Johannes Breuer and Gary Bente’s theory that serious games include other purposes than just entertainment of which they call ‘Edutainment.’ They demonstrate this in a graph from their journal Eludamos:


Works Cited

Aldrich, C. 2009. Virtual worlds, simulations, and games for education: A unifying view.Innovate 5 (5). (accessed June 15, 2015).

Bente, G and Breuer, J . 2010. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. Why so serious? On the Relation of Serious Games and Learning, p7-24.

Martens. 2008. Interplay with pedagogy, computer science and games, p.174.


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