On Michael’s and Chen’s “Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train, and Inform”

Michael’s and Chen’s “Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train, and Inform” is a textbook. I don’t mean that it’s a text book in the sense that an anthology of literature – something that you could read for pleasure if you were inclined to do so – or an academic text – which you could use for research – are “textbooks”. This book is a textbook in all levels.
When I read the title I expected some sort of elaboration on Bogost’s work – some sort of partially academic partially applied teaching volume that discussed serious games at a theoretical level, then proceeded to say “and this is how you teach with them”. Instead, the book focuses almost entirely on giving instructions on how to make serious games.
The opening chapters make an argument claiming that game developers should focus more on creating serious games. He explains that this is a good way for new developers to break into the business and for AAA teams to spend their time between major projects. The rest of the book focuses on how to create and sell serious video games to specific audiences.

With chapters explaining hoe educators, artists, corporations, and the military see and deal with serious games, this text is fairly well rounded on that regard. All chapters in this section follow the same structure: a definition of serious game for the target audience, how the target audience perceives serious games, how to design serious games (what to take into consideration, what genres to stick to, and other similar advice), and how to sell your product to the target audience. Each section even has audience-specific talking points. Each section ends with a “case study” of a serious game for each category.
The text isn’t really what I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a bad text. While it didn’t say anything I personally didn’t already know (except perhaps remind me of a specially interesting quote from another text), I would not hesitate to pick up this book and use it as one of the key texts in a class about serious games. The book is, for all effects, addressed to developers of all skill levels (or game enthusiasts who want to make their own games) who are considering making serious games, but don’t know how.
So, what’s the final verdict?
If you’re interested in making serious games, give this one a try. If not, then you might want to pass it up.

About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on June 27, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: