Martine asked on the Serious Games list what the killer app was for ‘serious games’ list, and it prompted some thinking.
As I’ve suggested before, Pine and Gilmore say that after the product and services economy is the ‘experience’ economy, that we’re in now, where we pay for experiences. A good example is Apple, which makes buying and owning Apple products more than a product/service, but an experience (think also: themed restaurants/travel, amusement parks, etc).
They argue that the next phase is the ‘transformation’ economy, where experiences will transform us. Read: learning. I’ll suggest serious games is a component of that transformation experience, and the principles underlying ‘engaging learning’ (engaginglearning.com), designing learning games, are the principles for designing those transformative experiences.
However, it occurs to me that the killer app may just well be a game-based high-stakes assessment. Why? Assessment is important, and tough to do well. Simulation is the closest thing to real performance, and consequently should provide the highest fidelity assessment. You have to perform to succeed (read: win the game).
A number of years ago I was leading an R&D project building an intelligently adaptive learning system, using learner characteristics. We started with a profiling instrument to develop the basis for adaptation, but intended to build a game-based environment to assess learner’s ‘styles’ (c.f. my rant on learning styles) as the basis for adaptation. I think this idea could be extended for many important skills.
There’s no reason, for instance, that SimuLearn’s Virtual Leader couldn’t be a leadership assessment as well as a learning environment (if you buy their leadership model). In fact, any assessment use would naturally (ala problem-based learning) serve as the basis for a learning experience as well.
So, my take on the killer app for games (besides games already being the killer app for elearning :), is high-stakes assessment. This is a test: what do you think?