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I wanted to rant about Sharon Sloane’s opinion piece on Gamasutra this morning, but I couldn’t find it (turns out it was under news and not features). Never mind that I could have searched for it – but I hadn’t had a cup of coffee yet.

Man, wanting to rant about something without having coffee available… That’s just not a good place to be, emotionally.

Thankfully Ian Bogost blogged about it as well. While I share his problem with it, I think there’s a another (albeit related) issue here…

For the love of god, can we please stop calling them “Serious Games”?

It effectively ghetto-izes any game that explores any theme more meaningful than “punch some muthafuckers”. By lumping them all together, including games made by groups whose purpose is solely training, and not even entertainment or, more importantly, communicating something meaningful about the world around us (ie. art), we’re devaluing the impact games like that can have.

After all, this sort of thing worked soooo well for “Girl Games”.

So what does that make The Shivah? A Jew Game? (Or maybe I’m just trying to pull the inevitable internet discussion trick of comparing people who disagree with me to Hitler – kidding! Mostly).

It’s like lumping military training videos and Bowling For Columbine in the same category of film. These things are most obviously not the same thing (but the game industry’s immaturity prevents most people from seeing that).

Of course, from the webpage of Sloane’s company, WILL Interactive, it looks like she actually does make military training videos – the interactive movie version of them, anyway. And the interactive movie version of those crappy educational movies they make you watch in school back in my da… ack! I’m getting old.

So yes, looks like she does make “Serious Games” – ie. games meant for training. Games with “teaching points” helpfully organized in bullet points for the potential consumer.

Somebody help if I ever make a game that must sum up it’s educational themes in bullet points. But, not my point here – There is a place for work in a medium that is dedicated to, who’s highest priority is, training and education. And then there is work in a medium whose highest priority is to move its audience emotionally on some deeper level. And these are usually two very different types of work.

So let’s not call them the same damn thing. Let’s keep calling the first, games dedicated to training, “Serious Games”, and let’s not call the second anything! Because every game has the potential to achieve that. Yes, even stuffy interactive movie training games.