Where did it come from?
The concept of 'serious games' in some form or other, has been around for thousands of years! Plato talks of it. Piaget and Vygotsky talk of it in terms of children's development and the purposefulness of play to help children work through concepts. Many others have used the concept, perhaps without the label, but none-the-less, we have been playing games for real purpose since...forever.
Freud and Charles Rodgers used observation of play as ways to see into the mental state of their charges. Play became therapy, but also a way of assessing where the person was at.
It's from these observations that old-style board games for vocational assessment have been developed. Play, observe, listen, reflect, talk, engage, think through, stand for your opinion. All serious behaviours that can be facilitated through the use of games for groups.
What we potentially get, are students with a deeper understanding of what they have learnt, integrated learning that makes more sense to students and can be applied laterally when needed. And solid evidence of competency for trainers and teachers is the other bonus at the end.
Training games...seriously :-)
- Serious Games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_game
- Phil Wilkinson. 2016. A Brief History of Serious Games https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e640/1745cd8cc58ab6787f204185df4f385bad1e.pdf