Saturday, December 24, 2005

Social impact games

In several blogs I have given my opinion about games. But the gaming industry is not a monolithic entity. There are console games and mobile games, single and multiplayer games, but also arcade games and serious games. On Wednesday the Dutch financial newspaper FD published an article with the heading: the Netherlands champion in serious games.

The article is interesting as it draws attention to established companies developing serious games such as Ra.NJ, V-step and IJsfontein. Ra.JN has produced Pool Paradise, which was a winner in the category of E-learning of the IJsfontein has also been nominated and a winner in the In the article Media Republic is also mentioned; they recently sold their commercial games arm to Sony, but still produce serious games. V-step developed a game to train firemen for disasters in the Amsterdam Arena soccer- and entertainment stadium. Also new companies are mentioned like OntdekNet, which has developed computer characters to take children through a learning track.

En passant, the article mentions that the Dutch creative industry comprises 220.000 employees. I wonder about this statement. Is this figure covering the digital creative industry, the former multimedia industry or new media sector. If this is the figure of the entire creative industry, the interviewee Mr Jurriaan van Rijswijk should look for better figures.

The article also mentions that the Dutch games market is good for 700 million euro. Spokespeople in the article estimate that social impact gaming is larger than entertainment games.

Developing serious games is cheaper than developing entertainment games. Prices range from 10.000 to 100.000 euro. As such there is more of a chance that Dutch companies can specialise in this sector.

In the meantime the Taskforce Innovation in the Utrecht region has taken up serious/social impact gaming as an innovation cluster. Utrecht University and the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU) have started the Centre for Advanced Gaming and Simulation. At the HKU you can specialise in Game Design & Development. In this module a decision game for the Dutch railways was developed by students; their product was nominated for the

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