Serious games are, as their names show, games that have other purpose than entertaining, but try to convey a serious message, such as educational content or political/social commentary.
"The "serious games" community - a somewhat amorphous group of people, conferences, email lists comprised of folks who cross the game development community and the folks who work on military trainers. The community catalized a few years back at one of the game developers conferences. This community tends to focus on "serious games" for education, disaster response preparation, economic modeling, and the kind of game you're talking about. If you're looking for technology and supporters, it's a pretty good place to start." (NextNet May 2011)
"Serious games are used for nonentertainment purposes including education, corporate and military training, and health care. The category includes games developed for professional use, such as Full Spectrum Warrior (a military training game later released commercially), Re-Mission, and Peacemaker, as well as recreational games adapted for serious purposes, as when teachers use Take 2 Interactive Software's Civilization in the classroom, or consumers use Konami's Dance Dance Revolution as a form of exercise." (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/id20070813_756874.htm?)
"In June, 2005, the successful British developer Blitz Games established TruSim, a division focused on creating serious games for the military, health-care, corporate, and education markets. Also last year, Japanese company Square Enix partnered with the publisher Gakken to create a serious games unit called SG Labs. In addition to its two dozen consumer titles, the Seattle-based Zombie Studios has developed training simulators for defense contractors and the Defense Dept. BreakAway Games, in Hunt Valley, Md., has also established a successful hybrid model, as has the Raleigh, (N.C.)-based Epic Games, whose Unreal Engine technology has been used both for professional training projects and for consumer titles." (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/id20070813_756874.htm?)
Combining gaming with social networking: Areae, Conduit
From USA Today:
"The Serious Games Movement got a start in 2002 when the U.S. Army released the video game America's Army as a free online download (www.americasarmy.com). That game "was the first successful and well-executed serious game that gained total public awareness" says Sawyer. More than 5 million people have become registered users. By exploring the video game, you experience what it is like to be in the Army.
As academics began to recognize the potential scope of video game technology, conferences sprang up. In 2003, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held a "Serious Games Day."
In 2004, the first Serious Games Summit was held at the Game Developers Conference. That same year, MIT Comparative Media Studies helped to sponsor the first Education Arcade: Games in Education Conference in Los Angeles two days before the E3, the video gaming industry's yearly conference.
In October, the Federation of American Scientists held their own Summit on Educational Games in Washington. Shortly thereafter, again in the nation's capital, a second annual Serious Games Summit was held. Most recently, on March 20-21, another Serious Games Summit was held as part of the Games Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif." (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2006-05-19-serious-games_x.htm)
Status Report 2007
"There are no hard numbers on the size of the serious games market, but Digitalmill's Sawyer offers what he says is a conservative estimate of $150 million, excluding traditional "edugames" developed for primary or secondary school education such as Carmen Sandiego and Math Blaster. "My Fortune 500 clients are collectively spending almost $4 million on serious games. Then there are sales of games like Brain Age—eight million SKUs at $20 each—and Dance Dance Revolution, which we estimate 1 in 20 consumers is buying for exercise," he explains. "I think there's no reason it can't be a billion-dollar market within a decade or sooner." (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/id20070813_756874.htm?)