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Why are Academics Obsessed with Serious Games

Why are many leaders in today’s institutions so concerned with making games serious. The industry is massively successful and has created many millionaires. No other industry has had to deal with its academic counterpart in such a stand-offish way. Many academics it seems want to apologize for the industries success and focus their students on the smaller parts of the industry and seem to think that fun equals immaturity.

  • While I understand what you're saying, I've yet to hear an authority on game design make any distinction as silly as "fun = immaturity". I'm also not sure what being financially successful and exploring mature themes have in common with each other. Please give something for us to work with. This isn't a platform to write an article about baseless claims. – Austin 6 years ago
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  • I too have not heard anyone saying that fun is immaturity. I think it would be good if you used a source for your claim. – SpectreWriter 6 years ago
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  • Fun is immature isn't something that is overly stated its more of a mindset that I have noticed as an academic. This is a topic that needs a more even handed voice than my own as I may be jaded to this topic. I was hoping that other people involved in academia choose flesh this out. So I must give a better example of what I'm implying. In some institutions many times departments will speak of their game design programs and quickly point to the research in serious games that they are doing. It is as if they are saying the fun stuff is just a cover for real work. I didn't mean to imply that these words were actually said it's just a mindset that I have seen and been around and tried to convey quickly perhaps to quickly. This mindset is usually not carried by professors in the feels but by deans and vice presidents. The reason why the financial state of games matter is because no other successful industry has an academic branch that tries to distance itself from then as much as games (opinion not a hard fact). Perhaps the topic should have been called games finding legitimacy in academia on there own merit. As I said while I can speak on my own stories about this topic as evidence, being invited to to the forum because of my positon as a game design professor, I thought that other academics could provide their take on it. Certainly it isn't baseless to see that literature is more respected in all its forms than games are with one prevailing bias ( but by whom) being games are for children. This old mindset is changing slowly but there is still that apologetic we do real research too when speaking to non game designers. – fchery 6 years ago
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  • I apologize, I typed on my phone which visually made it look like my last note was in paragraph form, seems I can't edit after its been submited. – fchery 6 years ago
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  • Maybe it's the fact the overriding emotional response from games is fun and that is all people in the lay public or other fields see it is capable of. As such encouraging the development of other responses a game can elicit is part of the broader goal of not letting games be limited to such narrow categorizations. – rj2n 6 years ago
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  • I'm having a hard time understanding what you said in your post, fchery. I'll work with what I can get though. I agree with rj2n, and would like to add something else. All media have had to work their way into formal prestige. Books have been in existence for centuries, and literacy was something achieved only by the wealthy and powerful since the advent of written language, and even after the spread of literacy, many stories of grandeur and philosophical challenges were written, stories that accredit the medium and justify its classification as art. Film wasn't considered an art form until roughly 20 years after the inception of the medium, and that was through a film that explored the moral dilemmas of its characters. There are reasons that make these media academically prestigious, which you recognize, and those reasons form a standard that hasn't been met by games consistently yet, though I'd argue that we've made huge progress over the past decade. So, it makes sense that your fellow academics, who are *interested in games* strive to make games a medium that has the respect of their fellow academics. How do they do that? They give their students, who are the ones who will make future games, the tools and experience to make games that allow academic leaders acknowledge the fact that game can be art. This also goes with the fact that what's "fun" is often arbitrary, innate, and personal. It's not hard to make a fun game for a subset of people, and it's also hard to teach what is fun without devoting yourself to research that'll most likely be obsolete in a few years. So, what to teach instead? Formal education, one based in liberal arts and science such as psychology and philosophy, stuff that's been around for ages and will always be practical to teach when dealing with media. tl;dr: academics teach and strive for formality because it is in their best interests AS ACADEMICS to do so – Austin 6 years ago
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  • I think your starting to understand the position. If I could some it up quicker. Videogames are multidisciplinary. Instead of utilizing the best people from different disciplines one thing that occurs often is a school decides it will focus on computer science in games or the effects of games. Very few have a holistic approach our a good understanding of the industry and what they need to train students to do to get into the field. This is also something I've heard from animation facilities, that they see good experimental at animations from some colleges but the students don't understand production workflow add some even lack basic skills used everyday in studios. The school answered this by hiring another person who past their rigorous interview which mostly dealt with mute experimental animation and their process. One would think the process they were looking for would match what commercial studios were looking for but that still east the case. I gues another way to look at the wuestion as I've seen this phenomenon in at classes as well. Why are some schools less inclined to train people practical skills that industry wants, focusing on the liberal at and humanities side of creativity without showing students the basics and explaining them in detail. If compared to engineering, it would be like speaking of high concepts and asking student to think of big revolutionary thought while only giving them little to know information about the laws of physics or the manufacturing process. – fchery 6 years ago
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  • A serious game has a decent story, breathtaking art, and wonderful music. It plays with imagery, literary devices, metaphors, and strong themes. Example, Final Fantasy XIII. Who cares if some of the gameplay is anstrengend(stressful). That's what youtube cutscene films are for. Now sometimes gameplay will make a game unfun if not done correctly. I think games should focus on excellent gameplay but story for me is key. – Starvix Draxon 6 years ago
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