Serious Gaming

Serious Gaming

Scientific literature on serious gaming often refers to the serious game oxymoron. An oxymoron is a stylistic term derived from Greek in which two words that contradict each other in their literal meaning are combined, in this case oxus (sharp) and mōros (blunt). Abbot (1970) was the first to characterise serious gaming as an oxymoron, because of an apparent tension in pursuing serious goals through an inherently non-serious medium. The Professorship Serious Gaming is dedicated and equipped to ensure this special approach to research and design has a meaningful, enduring place in our society. We take serious gaming very seriously.

Integrating research, education, and valorisation

Our ambition is shaped by viewing the three primary result areas of our university – education, research, and valorisation – not as separate entities, but in conjunction with each other: The Serious Gaming Triangle. Education is provided by the Master Serious Gaming program, the Professorship Serious Gaming owns the serious gaming research, and valorisation is vested in the Serious Gaming Lab. When it comes to education or research with serious gaming, other educational programs, or professorships within our university, as well as external partners, can also act as initiators and owners of these activities. It happens often that the Serious Gaming Triangle contributes to the achievement of external objectives.

Serious Gaming triangle core activities.

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Lemniscate of serious gaming

The lemniscate of serious gaming represents eight consecutive as well as iterative stages in the life cycle of a serious game, each with its own research perspective. The first two stages are ‘reflection’ on the real-life experiences and ‘correlation’ of insights from reality to the model of reality. This is followed by ‘translation’ of the model of reality into the serious game design and ‘implementation’ of a game intervention. The next two stages are ‘reflection’ on game run experiences and ‘correlation’ of insights from the game run with the starting model of reality. The life cycle ends with ‘translation’ of the changed model of reality into real-life actions and ‘implementation’ of these actions.

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Serious gaming research

Research with serious gaming (research through design) positions serious gaming as a research instrument, with two possible applications. For an issue where there is a high degree of clarity on the nature and direction of the objective, a serious game (as a product) can be used as a research instrument. The focus then lies on working towards an already defined solution. For an issue that seems ambiguous or needs further exploration we can use serious gaming (as a process), whereby the focus lies on exploring the issue itself.

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Research themes

In both research with serious gaming as well as in education with serious gaming, the Professorship Serious Gaming prioritizes the following themes:

Serious Gaming Lab (SeGa Lab)

The SeGa Lab is the workplace of the Professorship Serious Gaming and the Master Serious Gaming program. The primary aim of the SeGa Lab is to enable valorisation, a process of knowledge-based value creation, by making this knowledge available and applicable for societal and possibly economic use. This is achieved by supporting the setting up of partnerships, where there is a reciprocal relationship between researchers, lecturers, and external partners. Valorisation provides opportunities for initiation and funding of research, and it is increasingly becoming an integral part of the requirements for competitive funding in research, both at the national and European level.

An important activity within the valorisation role of the SeGa Lab is to encourage and enable educators to integrate serious gaming into their curricula, thereby promoting didactical innovation in line with the Design Based Education principles of NHL Stenden. The SeGa Lab already has a portfolio of serious games that can be integrated into different curricula (including the Master Serious Gaming program) and is responsible for the management, actualization, dissemination, and transfer of this portfolio.

Professorship Serious Gaming and Master Serious Gaming program

The deliberate integration of research, education, and valorisation within the serious gaming triangle at NHL Stenden, ensures 'by design' a very direct relationship between research and master education. An essential criterion for our engagement in any research project is that it must be relevant for the learning journey of our master's students. In that way we can ensure that acquired knowledge flows back into education and that students themselves are an integral part of design research projects. Conversely, the issues from the (professional) context of our master's students can be incorporated into the curriculum of the Master Serious Gaming program or lead to long-term partnerships, including joint grant applications. In the case of specific developmental questions from master's students, the Professorship Serious Gaming can propose suitable design-research issues as carriers for adaptive and meaningful education.


Do you have a question about one of our projects or want to know what possibilities there are to work together? Then get in touch!

NHL Stenden
Future Design Center, Academie ICT & Creative Technologies
Serious Gaming groep
Rengerslaan 8-10
8917 DD Leeuwarden

Contact via: Business Relations Future Design Center

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