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Online Course

Serious Gaming

Erasmus University Rotterdam via Coursera


Have you ever wondered how playing games can help us to train people, deal with societal challenges or raise awareness of contemporary social issues?

In this MOOC you will learn the ins and outs of games that are designed with exactly those purposes in mind: serious games. We will define serious games and discuss the different types that have been developed. We will explain why people like to play them and what impact they may have. State of the art theories from game studies, philosophy and media psychology will be used to help you understand how serious games work and how they appeal to players. The potential impact of gaming is addressed in detail by discussing persuasive games, which aim at changing the player's attitude. Throughout the MOOC, theoretical insights will be illustrated with playful animations and case studies of serious games that are developed by world-class companies in the city of Rotterdam.

This MOOC is particularly interesting for you when you are a student considering to study digital media such as serious games, a professional interested in the opportunities these games may create for your organization, or a game developer who wants to know more about the impact serious games can have.

Watch the teaser for this MOOC here:

Are you ready to broaden your vision on serious games? Join this course and be inspired!


Introduction and Definition
-What are serious games? What characteristics do they have in common with digital entertainment games? And what sets them apart from other media products? In this first module, we set out to define the field. Get ready to immerse yourself and play your first serious game.

The Theoretical Framework
-You might be wondering why we keep on playing a game, even though we sometimes lose or get stuck in a level. In this module, you will learn about what is so motivating about games. We will discuss theories and also a practical example of a serious game that encourages commuters to leave their car at home more often.

Different Serious Games and Simulations
-Throughout this MOOC, you will learn that serious games are applicable in various situations. In this module, we introduce a taxonomy of serious games, which is a classification of the different kinds of serious games. We will focus on one type of serious games in particular: simulations. You will see how simulators are used in complex training situations. So get ready to visit the harbor of Rotterdam and a hospital emergency room...

Persuasive Gaming
-How can a game influence the attitude of a player? In this module, we will dive into a specific kind of serious games: persuasive games. Rhetoric and psychological theories will help you to understand how the process of persuasion works. And we will analyze in practice how persuasive games can help us to feel empathy for poverty-stricken teenagers, what it feels like to have autism or understand the impact of gun violence.

The Impact of Serious Games
-By now you probably wonder to what extent serious games actually reach their desired outcome. This seems to be the million-dollar-question, because when an organization invests serious money in a serious game, they would like to be sure it works. But the answer is not that simple. To know more about impact, you need to know more about how it is measured. Therefore, this module is about research methods. We will discuss two of them in more depth: survey research and experiments. Put on your lab coat!

The Futures of Serious Games
-Unfortunately, we do not own a crystal ball. In this module we will nonetheless take a look into the possible futures of serious games. Will we be playing games in virtual reality, or will we guide our game characters with our brains? Before we look forward, this module will also provide you with a brief overview of all the things we have discussed so far.

Taught by

Jeroen Jansz and Mijke Slot

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4.7 rating, based on 3 reviews

Start your review of Serious Gaming

  • Pilar Reyes completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Excellent course. Students have the opportunity to learn about the main features of serious games (definition, how they work, kinds of serious games and other topics). Videos are engaging because learners are encouraged to participate not only by answering questions about content, but also to answer short surveys or give their opinions, etc. Also, learners are invited to try some games in order to get familiar with these kind of games. The suggested readings are very interesting (I read most of them). Teachers are nice and enthusiastic. Finally, I liked the course because I had enough time to review concepts and also to play the games. In short, I learned without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Profile image for Auke Maat
    Auke Maat

    Auke Maat completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    A good course to give insight into serious gaming. Some thinking involved in the different aspects that are covered. Very good coverage of the basics.
  • Profile image for Monica Guimaraes
    Monica Guimaraes

    Monica Guimaraes completed this course.

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