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Games Health J. 2012 Aug;1(4):257-261.

Fun and Games and Boredom.

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Archimage, Inc. , Houston, Texas.
USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.


Serious videogames use entertainment to teach, train, or change behavior. What began in the 1970s as tentative attempts to create learning software is now a recognized videogame genre and an emerging health science. Although more research is needed, a growing body of literature suggests serious videogames can be effective. Support for serious videogames, however, is not universal. An informal Web search reveals numerous skeptics. Critics question serious videogames' entertainment value and, thus, their viability. "How can serious videogames attract and maintain players," the argument goes, "if they aren't as much fun as commercial titles, or even any fun at all?" This article examines the argument that, to be effective, serious videogames should be overtly fun and comparable to commercial off-the-shelf videogames. It explores differences between game developer- and researcher-led projects and discusses ways serious videogames can avoid boring and alienating players. It concludes that direct comparisons between serious and commercial game entertainment values may be misdirected.

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