What are the five types of serious games?



Serious games are games with a purpose other than entertainment and are used in various sectors. Think of education, healthcare, sustainability projects and marketing purposes. Serious games should be entertaining so that players play longer and more often, but this is not the main objective. The objective of a serious game can vary greatly. We will give you more insight into the five types of serious games and how they are used in practice.

In this article, we will discuss serious games to:

  • transfer knowledge;
  • teach skills
  • create awareness
  • change behaviour;
  • increase motivation.

Serious games to transfer knowledge

Knowledge transfer takes place in many different ways. We are taught at school, read books in our free time and share information with others. Sometimes it is about subjects that are less interesting, and then it is difficult to keep your attention. In such an instance, a serious game can provide the solution. Such is the case with Blok Out: a mixed-reality tour through the ‘Blokhuispoort’ in Leeuwarden.

Nowadays, the Blokhuispoort in Leeuwarden is a museum, there are numerous activities and the office of Grendel Games is located there. But there is a rich history at this location. Visitors can therefore use Blok Out to learn more about the Blokhuispoort and the prisoners who were once locked up there.

The serious game aims to increase your historical knowledge while discovering the Blokhuispoort. In the game, you go on a journey together with the game character, Barend, the old key keeper of the Blokhuispoort. Barend has lost his memory. By discovering the old prison, you bring Barend his memory back. During the quest, you solve various puzzles and riddles. The game, suitable for children aged 8 and up, can be played via a smartphone.

Serious games to teach skills

If you want to learn a new skill, it is important to practise a lot. For some skills, a simulation is ideal. Think of a trainee pilot who has to learn all the buttons in a cockpit. To learn this, the cockpit and flying experience must be as realistic as possible.

There are also situations where it is less important how realistic the training environment is, as long as the correct action is performed. In this case, a serious game is a good solution because a serious game is often more fun to play, which leads to a better result.

Tip: also read this article about the difference between simulations and serious games!

In the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), they decided to use a serious game for surgeons in training. These surgeons have to practise an average of 200 hours a year to keep their motor skills up to standard. Previously, the surgeons practised with a simulator, but the UMCG noticed that too little use was made of the simulator.

Therefore, Grendel Games and the UMCG developed the serious game Underground. The game is about the character Sari who is going to free her robot friend Sw4nk from the mines. By playing the game, trainee surgeons practice their motor skills in a fun and challenging way.

Serious games to create awareness

The third purpose of using serious games is to create awareness. Sometimes we are not aware of something, or we only know one side of the story. Or too many sides of a story, as in the case of the news.

In the past, there were few news channels, nowadays we have dozens of ways to read the news. Think of the news, the radio, news websites and social media channels. On all these channels you can read multiple sides of a story with a mix of opinions, facts and untruths.

In the serious game Burst Your Bubble, players are confronted with this situation. You can only play the game if you can put yourself in someone else’s news-bubble. This way, people become aware of social media influence on how we watch and read the news.

Serious games to change behaviour

Changing behaviour is difficult. Research shows that it can take up to 66 days on average to learn new behaviour. During this period, a person must be exposed to the new behaviour. Motivation is needed for this. Games have exciting characters, an imaginative game world and competition with other players. These elements make it fun to play games and, more importantly, to keep playing.

A behavioural change that we all consider at some point is a healthy lifestyle. And we all know how difficult it is to start and maintain that change. The initiators of the serious game greenhabit also understood this. Greenhabit is a game that makes working on your health fun.

In greenhabit, players are given a daily challenge related to healthy eating, exercise, relaxation, positive thinking or social environment. In 12 week, players must complete as many daily challenges as possible. Of course, this is rewarded with points and badges, but also with physical rewards such as a free vegetable box from the local supermarket. Through the serious game, players are exposed to behavioural change for a longer period of time. Also, changing your lifestyle becomes easier because you only have to complete one challenge per day. This means your life is not completely changed overnight.


Serious games to increase motivation

We conclude this article with the last type: serious games to increase motivation. Earlier, we wrote an extensive article about motivating employees, in which two types of motivation were mentioned: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from yourself (e.g., you want to lose weight to feel better) and extrinsic motivation often comes from an external factor (e.g., sales employee works extra hard to get a bonus). The fun factor in serious games can make repetitive exercises a lot more enjoyable and increases the chance that someone will be intrinsically motivated.

Children, of course, are already convinced that games are fun! Gryphon Rider is a game that motivates young clients with non-congenital brain injury. Rehabilitation is a tough process in which exercises often have to be repeated. In Gryphon Rider, the client (in the game) climbs on the back of a gryphon. By leaning to the left or right, they can move the gryphon and have to keep their balance. As the game progresses, the movements become increasingly difficult. Because it is so accessible and fun to play, children remain motivated to practice for a long time.


Would you like to know more about the different types of serious games or do you have a challenge that we can help you with? 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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