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Video games that were previously shown to dull the mind of children are now gaining a completely different perspective. For instance, it is a $100 billion dollar industry, bigger than even the industry of film and music that offers a huge economic benefit to its country. Further, it has successfully engaged more than two billion players from across the globe to play games from different devices. Along with its recreational aspect, video games are also offering tons of job opportunities too. 

Digital Video Games In Africa

The number of consumers of digital video games is increasing in Africa, especially South Africa. The interesting fact about the consumers in Africa is their diversity which includes demographic populations of different races, gender and even household incomes. Further, the devices in which one wants to play video games vary from computers, consoles and smartphones. The increasing consumers of video games in Africa in turn have helped the local game development industry in the continent to flourish. The Africans are not only playing games but also are creating games. However, it should be noted that games in Africa serve much more than recreational purposes and are also serving a unique purpose in the realm of learning. 

Serious About Game Initiative Combines Games With Learning

A simple search in Play Store or App Store will show that there are numerous educational games that can be downloaded for learning new things. Fun games like Scrabble might require additional tools like Word Unscrambler to win a game. Popular word games like Words With Friends sometimes may engage a player with Anagram Solver to learn new words and there is also plenty of puzzle and mathematical games too which can help any kid to learn while having fun. 

This fun aspect of the game was realized in Africa and Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative launched the Serious About Games initiative in 2016 with the support of Design Institute, Interactive Entertainment South Africa, 67 Games and Cape Craft. The initiative was further funded by the Western Cape Provincial Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The initiative explores the ability of video games to serve as an education tool along with a device for a proper behavioural and attitude change. 

Why Are Games Chosen As Learning Tools?

Any player will let a non-gamer know that most of the game provided an immersive experience for the player. The game effortlessly provides a player with escapism and in addition to that, provides the player with a platform to explore complex problems in a safe manner. Even if these aspects of the games are taken into consideration, it can be proven that it acts as a great tool for learning. No doubt, books and television can also prove to be great learning tools and share aspects like escapism but what makes learning through games a truly unique experience is the fact that they are extremely interactive and engage the learner directly. The immersive experience along with the interactive aspect of the game makes it a highly effective learning tool. 

What Are Serious Games?

In trying to understand what serious games are, it is important to know what actually serious games are not. For instance, serious games are not mere stimulations. There is not gamification of tasks. Serious games are video games that serve much more than their entertainment and finance purpose. The basic intention behind such games is to educate the players along with the generation of the academic data and to bring a positive societal change. Categorisation of serious games are done on the basis of nine characteristics, platform, subject matter, learning goals, learning principles, target audience, interaction mode, application area, controls/interfaces and common gaming labels/genre. Few examples of serious games are Sea Hero Quest (research), Breakaway (attitude change), Foldit (research) and Dig Rush (therapy). 

If designed properly with the goals and principles in mind, serious games can be used for tackling social problems, advancing research in science and technology and other subjects. It can also be used to supplement education and advance medical therapies and innovation. Currently, in Africa, serious games serve a tiny portion of the overall game industry but the sector is growing steadily and the growth can be further fastened with the development in the local ecosystem. It is expected that the Western Cape of Africa will serve as a breeding ground for serious games in Africa. 

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