The History of Games

Since as early as 2600 BC, games have been a part of human interactions and experiences and are thought to be a part of all cultures. Games can be played in many forms and can be partaken in for purely recreational purposes, or to help develop some form of practical skills, to educate, or stimulate.

 In 1970 the term “serious game” was first used by Clark Abt, however, the concept was certainly not new with the Military having used war games to train strategy since the 19th century. Since the 1970’s the adoption of serious games as an experiential learning method has been steadily increasing in formal education, but with the proliferation of computers in the 1980’s this accelerated the process further. Then in the early 2000’s the internet changed the face of serious games forever extending the application from beyond just formal education into professional training and executive education.

Serious games can be politically, financially, business process, behavioural, or change management focussed, with the opportunities only limited by ones imagination.

The Learning Effect

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”, Aristotle once said. Learning through reflection on doing, or making meaning from experiences, has been popularised by American educational theorist David Kold under the term Experiential Learning. The basis of the experiential learning concept is that as learners engage and interact at a more personal level the likelihood of learning occurring drastically increases, thereby fostering retained learning as opposed to short term knowledge acquisition.

The ability of tools such as simulations and serious games to engage adult learners has indeed had a profound impact in corporate training programs. The use of such tools have indeed permanently changed the landscape of how to educate and train mature aged professionals!

Supply Chain games such as the Beer game are now well known to train professionals about real world operational and executional issues. Meanwhile most recently advanced business simulations have proliferated Executive Education programs due to their ability to foster retained learning, engage participants, and motivate sustainable change.

Companies are increasingly realising that to teach new things, new approaches are needed, and without doubt the way of the future appears to be serious games.


Matthew Gardner, B.Com (Dist.), CPIM, CSCP, CSM, Dip.Bom



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