In From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality Games, Zyda explains the possibility for game developers to “have the potential to influence not just the future of interactive entertainment but also the future of interactive training, education, and simulation.” (p. 32). In order to do so, he argues that video game research must have three key components: infrastructure, cognitive game design, and immersion.
To Zyda, a serious game is “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.” (p. 26). Inspired by America’s Army, a game that is played by the public and used by the military for training, university labs like GamePipe at the University of Southern California have been formed to create video games that promote “collateral learning—the learning that happens by some mechanism other than formal teaching” in subjects such as math and science. (p. 27). According to Zyda, “the game playing public is becoming ever more enamored of portable entertainment platforms,” which poses the “critical challenge of providing well-designed interfaces, ever-increasing storage capacity, and expanded wireless network bandwidth.” (p. 28). This requires improved infrastructure, which includes solving large-scale architecture problems, integrating cognitive game design, such as “the modeling and simulation of human emotion,” and immersion, which requires “creating technologies that engage the game player’s mind via sensory stimulation and providing methods for increasing the sense of presence.” (p. 29).
This article was written in 2005, but a quick search of USC’s GamePipe lab seems to show that lab is thriving. I was only seven at the time that this article was written, but even then I vaguely remember video games infiltrating the lives of my peers; now, video games are everywhere, as we’ve discussed previously with e-gaming and e-sports. I would argue that people are very emotionally invested and immersed in the video games that they play, so I wonder what cognitive and immersive capacities video game developers are now looking to explore.