The biggest objections to serious games (and why they are not always right)



We can’t say it enough: serious games are becoming more and more popular. But the technique and method to change behavior or transfer knowledge through games is quite new. Obviously, this can lead to objections. New technologies are always exciting. What are the biggest objections to serious games? And are they correct? We respond to 7 common objections.

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1. “It’s just a game. People don’t take games seriously”

Originally, games are, of course, a means of entertainment or relaxation. Think of video games, mobile games, or board games. Especially video games and mobile games have increased in popularity in recent years and certainly do not always have an educational or informative purpose. It is therefore understandable that games are not always taken seriously as a means of learning or training.

Nevertheless, it has been proven in recent years that serious games are indeed taken seriously. Sometimes even more serious than traditional methods. Think of a game for trainee surgeons who made too little use of their surgical simulator, but enthusiastically played a mobile game like Angry Birds during breaks. With the serious game ‘Underground‘, surgeons had fun training their motor skills again. This is just one example. Discover more examples of serious games!

2. “Serious games are less effective than traditional methods”.

Several traditional methods work well to change behavior. Think of the traditional method ‘motivational interviewing‘: an approach to help people identify their problems and encourage them to change. Whether a traditional method or serious game is better to use depends of course on the problem or objective.

A well-developed serious game has the advantage of holding the user’s attention. The player continues to engaged because of the exciting game story, the attractive game environment and various challenges and rewards. The result: more absorption of the knowledge or message acquired through the storyline.

3. “My target group, the elderly, do not play games”.

Everyone loves games, yet, young people play them more! Kids used to play soccer on the street, marbles or hide and seek. Nowadays, they play video games or a game on the tablet. It is a fact that certain age groups play games more often than others. .

Game-evenings such as billiard or cards are organized for the elderly but that is not all. Serious games are also used among the elderly. An example is ‘Active on Hunting’, a game that combines board games from the past with Kinect motion detection to help the elderly remain physically mobile and socially active. Watch the trailer of the game and experiences of the elderly:

4. “Developing a serious game is too expensive”

The first question is of course what kind of serious game it is. The costs of a serious game depend on the complexity of the game and the wishes of the client:

  • Is it a simple web game or a multiplatform game (app for Android and Apple)?
  • Is it an existing game concept or should an innovative concept be developed?
  • Is the game used worldwide or only at the local elementary school?

Many aspects determine the price of a serious game. In addition, it is also important to look at what it delivers. Our clients often have complex objectives and understand that there are many development hours required. That is why Grendel Games usually works for large companies and institutions. Also, the games we develop for our clients are often supported with subsidies and by governments.

5. “Games are addictive”

It’s the topic of the day: gaming is addictive. Especially in games for entertainment, there is a thin line between gaming for entertainment and gaming addiction. Of course, an addiction is never healthy. Gaming addiction can lead to little exercise, no social contact, and poor nutrition.

Besides entertainment, serious games serve as a tool to solve societal problems. Instead of creating the wrong behavior, they are used to changing wrong behavior. The addictive properties of games (the game world, a compelling storyline, challenges, and rewards) are used to counteract negative characteristics (no social contact, little exercise, or bad food).

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An example of such a solution is greenhabit: a game that makes working on your health fun. In greenhabit, players get a challenge every day. In greenhabit, the challenge, the message or the question focuses on 1 of the 5 pillars for a healthy lifestyle: healthy food, exercise, relaxation, positive thinking, and social environment. In a 12-week adventure, players have to complete as many daily challenges as possible and thus learn to live healthier lives. A challenging game that counteracts bad habits.

6. “My target group does not have the hardware to play games”

This can certainly happen. Not everyone has a game computer or console. That’s not necessary either. Serious games are often made for your mobile phone. What if the target group does not use mobile phones? Then playing a serious game on location is also a good option. You saw this in the third objection, where elderly people come together at a location to play the game ‘Physically on Hunting’.

Another example is Gryphon Rider, a serious game in which children rehabilitate by doing certain exercises. In addition to the game, a ‘balance platform’ is needed to register the exercises. The clients, therefore, go to the rehabilitation centre to play the game.

7. “I don’t know how to develop and apply a serious game”

That’s also quite tricky, but we’re happy to help you with that. Developing a serious game is complicated. It’s a real voyage of discovery that starts with a challenge or problem. In addition to development, implementation is also important. Of course, you want the target group to use and like the game. . So the launch and distribution must be well-thought-out. What about marketing, design, and support during the process?
Grendel Games helps with both the development and implementation of a serious game: from problem identification to final (serious) game development. Would you like to know more about the development and implementation process? Read this article!


We understand that a serious game is not the easiest route to solve a complex challenge. It is a new and exciting challenge to transfer knowledge or change behavior that works.


Do you still have questions about serious games or how to apply them within your field of work? Please contact Tim Laning to discuss it:

Tim Laning

Business developer

Do you want to know more about the possibilities of serious games? Let’s discuss what serious games can do for you.


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