Gamification and Serious Games are two subjects with the same core principle: The usage of gaming elements in non-pure-gaming scenarios to motivate people.
The main difference between them, despite not the only one, is the setting where these strategies are applied. But isn’t there a bit more into it? If we look at this in an over-simplistic manner, gamification is applying gaming concepts in non-game scenarios, while serious games is using games to engage users in solving real problems.
Then everything starts to get even more blurry when you start thinking about some “hybrid” solutions.
When you have a virtual representation of the real world, you have just that, a representation of the real world. When you add gaming elements to that setting, what are you doing? Applying gamification in that virtual setting? Or is it now a serious game?
That’s when the debate probably begins.
The most simple way you can look at serious games, is thinking of “educational games”.
But that’s a very limited definition in our opinion. We would call it maybe a virtual environment where gaming techniques are applied to motivate the user to solve a problem. In the most general sense of it we may call it a game. Why not?
The core of gamification and serious games is still the same, the use of game elements to motivate the gamifiers and the serious gamers.
That’s why we believe that in the near future, with the evolution of technology, where the virtual and the real tend to become more and more entangled, the need to separate both will disappear. We understand that this is very debatable and we don’t really mean to create a forced consensus around this. Some of you may agree, some of you may disagree, but we see this as a good thing since that’s from constructive debate that knowledge arises.
The bottom line is: it doesn’t really matter
The defining of a theory is naturally important as it helps people who are still unaware of a concept to understand what it’s being talked about.
But on the bottom line, it doesn’t really matter. The effort required to create a definition and trying to redefine it in every step taken, when it’s really something that should be easy to understand and even explains for itself, just seems futile. The important thing is the experience itself and not so much the meticulous description of how the concept should be perceived.
It’s easy to fall into that trap and try to create an all round accepted definition with all the bells and whistles, but what really matters in the end is a good plan and the implementation of that plan. Does it really matter defining if it’s a gamification experience or a serious games, if it just works?
The beautiful things in life don’t need that much of an explanation as much as they need to be experienced.