The Serious Games Initiative


The Serious Games Initiative is focused on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. Part of its overall charter is to help forge productive links between the electronic game industry and projects involving the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy. The Serious Games Initiative was founded at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Our Goals

The goal of the initiative is to help usher in a new series of policy education, exploration, and management tools utilizing state of the art computer game designs, technologies, and development skills.

As part of that goal the Serious Games Initiative also plays a greater role in helping to organize and accelerate the adoption of computer games for a variety of challenges facing the world today.

Our Interests

We are most interested in working to address four interrelated questions:
  • What public policy and management issues or challenges are most amenable to computer-based gaming techniques?

  • What existing and emerging game technologies (such as multi-user, virtual environments) might be particularly useful when applied to policy or management issues?

  • How can we quickly expand the application of computer-based games to a much wider range of key challenges facing our government and other public or private organizations?

  • How do we identify and proactively deal with any social, ethical, and/or legal issues that might arise through the application of game-based tools to public policy and management issues?

The Emergence of a Serious Games Industry

Since 2002 it has published several papers and articles and hosted a major workshop in February 2003 that resulted in design treatments for several serious games for parks, hospitals, and high schools. These treatments are now being shown to a number of organizations that may result in their development.

The initiative has also begun hosting a series of meetings aimed at helping the area of "serious games" emerge into an organized industry of developers and development studios skilled at using cutting-edge entertainment technologies to solve problems in areas as diverse as education, health-care, national defense, homeland securtiy, analytics, corporate management and more.

Over the last several years such projects have begun to emerge as an important outgrowth of the gaming industry. The number of non-entertainment games under development is rapidly increasing. The appreciation for the ideas, skills, technologies, and techniques used in commercial entertainment games is at an all time high. Many commercial games are already in use for purposes other than entertainment. Titles such as SimCity, Civilization, Hidden Agenda, and others have been used as learning tools in schools and universities across the globe.

As a result, a new field of computer and video games, applied to non-entertainment purposes, has the capability to become a new hotbed of activity. This field is growing steadily, and represents a significant new opportunity for game developers, as well as interactive development tool and technology providers. As the entertainment market matures these new fields offer further economic opportunities for an industry that employs tens of thousands of high-tech workers in the U.S. and worldwide.

Gaming Our Way...

Our work helping this greater industry evolve promises to make it easier to build and support the use of games for the specific policy education and forsight activities we imagine games can provide to current and future generations of government and corporate leaders.

If we are successful we hope to create not only better tools for policymakers, but the chance to "game our way" to a better world as well.