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Beyond entertainment

Building games that benefit people.

As a game developer, we are always competing for people's time, most games are offering entertainment, however, many games are now trying to offer more and as a game developer, looking to stand out in a crowded marketplace, it is worth considering some of these options to add value.

There are four main areas in which you can add extra benefit to the players. These are social connection, general brain improvement, teaching specific skills and improving awareness.

Social connection

In these times of the coronavirus outbreak, more and more people are feeling alienated from their family, friends and their social support structure.

Many games have thrived in this, for example, the Jack pack has enabled me to run quiz shows and easy games with all my family and friends on many different occasions.

Another great example is Kind Words by Pop Cannibal, which primary game mechanic is to write kind letters to other players of the games and earn badges very, very simple, but sweet interface and mechanic, which acts as home therapy.

General brain improvement

Games to help you increase your Intelligence have been around for a long time. Now, in most cases, there has been little to no scientific evidence that these games do anything at all in most cases you just get better at the games themselves rather than providing any general cognitive improvement.

There are some exceptions to this N-Back training this game in many different scientific experiments has been proven to improve people's short term memory. That been said the improvement is only maintained if you continue with regularly playing it and then you would probably be better off meditating.

Teaching specific skills.

Where computer games have been used to effectively provide extra value is in their ability to teach specific skills. Not only are they effective at guiding and measuring they also can provide a graduating increasing difficulty curve, all whilst keeping the learner engaged.

The most famous of these I believe to be “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” designed to teach kids geography. But my personal favourite example is Typing of the Dead.

This has been the area which I believe is most successful and also a lot more opportunities. With the world becoming more and more online bases and educating yourself becoming such a huge requirement any game that offers real-world skills could expect to sell well.

Improving awareness.

The final area where you can provide some value is a little more controversial and this is improving social awareness. A great example of this type of game is Paper Please by Lucas Pope.

A grim exploration of the life of a border guard. I believe this is a fantastic example of how games can communicate something that all other mediums have trouble with. In this game, you have to actually make the choices that are so difficult in real life.

About the author:

Edward is an indie game developer, tutor and consultant specialising in Unreal Engine. Ed works for Jammy Games.