11/23 – “From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games” Deirdre Kelshaw

In “From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games,” Michael Zyda argues that Virtual Reality (VR)  researchers must readjust their focus on game research and development if they wish for their work to remain relevant, as the VR field is increasingly being influenced by video games. Zyda strengthens his argument by stating that video game research impacts multiple industries, along with the government and corporate organizations that could benefit from training, simulation and education opportunities that these “serious games” could provide. 

Zyda defines “serious games” as “a mental contest, played with a computer in accordance with specific rules, that uses entertainment to further government or corporate training, education, health, public policy, and strategic communication objectives.” Unlike other video games, serious games incorporate pedagogy — an educational purpose. Zyda provides an example, that being the video game “America’s Army,” which has both proved to be the most successful serious game produced and has served as a useful recruiting tool. Zyda explains that the US Army’s sergeant bypassed the Army’s requirements documents and formal studies, instead deploying the game as a way to learn. When recruits had trouble in the rifle range or the obstacle course, for example, the recruits would be told to play and complete levels on “America’s Army.” Afterwards, recruits could typically return and pass any range tests.

When reading this article, I thought of how many of my friends from high school who are now studying to be nurses or doctors had to use video-game type learning to complete their coursework during COVID-19. For example, there would be serious games in which the student would have to give a character a diagnosis or perform a type of operation. What other jobs or areas of focus could benefit from instruction based on serious games? While these games have proven to be useful, I wonder its extent. If I’m being honest, it does make me somewhat nervous that our future healthcare workers are now somewhat basing their experience on games rather than real-life situations. However, perhaps students now have even more accessibility to these types of experiences now that they don’t have to rely on real individuals.

One thought on “11/23 – “From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games” Deirdre Kelshaw

  1. This is a very interesting analysis of this article, and I do have to agree with you that it does make me a little worried that some of the people going into professions that are held extremely significant in our world are learning through video games as opposed to in-person learning. I think that as it pertains to Covid, this is a very useful way to get the learning experience needed for a profession, but I don’t know how much I support using it as a substitute unless it was necessary. I have actually never heard of video games being used for the purpose of educating, and thought the example of the military game was really intriguing. Even more so, the fact that the game significantly helped them in training was surprising to me, and I think more people should be focusing on this, as it could be a great way in certain circumstances to help people achieve goals in the educational realm.

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