Serious Game Design


For a couple of years now I have been working on various storybased serious game designs: games wrapping up some sort of ‘serious’ content into an immersive story.

Amongst the game designs I have been working on have been concepts for all sorts of content (say, school, yoga, detective), media (webseries, IoT, 360° video) and ages (preschool, teenagers, adults). Some of the games are already published, others are prototypes or in search for support for the big last step into production.

The goal

Imagine a normal day with the usual cup of tea and that one bit of work you really don’t want to do, when you – quite unexpectedly – receive a message inviting you to join a mission, help solve a tricky case, explore a foreign world. And suddenly this isn’t a normal day anymore, but an adventure to embark on in the course of which you’ve to crack many a challenge.

The goal with Storybased Serious Games is to make the user a character in an engaging storyverse of which the learning content and any media its delivered in are natural parts. This means: the role of the user is that of the leading character (not a learner). This also means: the content serves the story. The second a user becomes suspicious and starts believing otherwise, the story breaks.

What's important?

To make this goal work, build a credible story and working concept, a lot of questions need to be answered. Here are some of them:

Story: What’s the story? What’s the user’s role in it? Who are the other characters? What does the story universe look like? What story branches are there and how do they unfold?

Content: What’s the learning content? Are there any stages this content has to be delivered in? What means of differentiation for slower and faster learners are there?

Gameplay: Which challenges and actions are suggested by the story itself? What technologies and media deliver the story? Who are the users and what skills do they need in order to get started? How does the game actually start and end and what’s the user’s journey in between?