By Dolly Rairigh Glass

For Serious Games Showcase & Challenge, the year 2011 was a year for adaptation. Specifically, it was centered around mobile platforms and the introduction of its own award category, and the first year for the special themed category, “Adaptive Force.”

With mobile use continuing to grow at that time, and the expansion of platforms now including MAC iOS, Windows Mobile and Android, the committee felt that 2011 was the right time to create the mobile game category.

SGS&C-poster-2011-w“Going into 2011, mobile game playing capabilities were not on a level playing field compared to PC, and our committee felt it was important to level the playing field by creating an additional category just for mobile,” said Kent Gritton, Serious Games & Showcase Challenge co-founder.“

“In the category’s first year, five of the 21 finalist spots were mobile, and so it seemed we were taking an important step in growing the number of participants in the Challenge,” he said. “Plus we continued receiving submissions that were quality games themed on all kinds of topics across the various platforms.”

Simultaneously, at the direction of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Frank DiGiovanni, director, Force Readiness and Training in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness), the committee introduced Adaptive Stance as the first special emphasis award.

Adaptive Stance focuses on the user’s ability to repeatedly try new or different strategies to solve problems.

“You don’t want games that train to the cheat,” Gritton explained. “With Adaptive Stance games, it constantly forces the user to think differently about their environment because they can’t use the same strategy every time to win the level.”

The number of entries grew, yet again in 2011, with 51 total entries, producing 21 finalists. Of the 21 finalists, there were 16 PC-based games and five mobile. But one of the more interesting outcomes that year was a Ph.D. student then, Dr. Katelyn Procci, and her team at the RETRO Lab at the University of Central Florida, who submitted two games for consideration and successfully achieved finalist level for both: Garden Defense and Devil’s Advocate.

At the event conclusion, Garden Defense won Best Student Game. This serious game is targeted to deployed soldiers, and teaches players conflict management strategies, provides information on the challenges of reintegration, and even provides additional background on everything that needs to be done before deployment (e.g., assign power of attorney, renew car registration).

Following the SGS&C awards ceremony, in the RETRO Lab’s blog, Procci wrote, “It is certainly an honor to have not one, but two games as finalists in this prestigious competition. I am extremely pleased (and proud) to announce that Garden Defense, our tower defense assessment minigame, won Best Student Game!”

“They were pretty amazing,” Gritton said about the finalists. “And because they covered such a wide variety of game topics like language skills, environmental concerns, cybersecurity, and even kitchen safety, I think that appealed to a greater amount of the I/ITSEC attendance and subsequently we saw an increase in interest and votes for the People’s Choice Award .”

2011 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge At-A-Glance

51 entries; 21 finalists (16 PC, 5 Mobile); 8 student entries/5 finalists
IPT Chair – Erik Sand (360Ed); Deputy Chair – Leslie Dubow (PEO STRI)
Best Serious Game Business Category: Air Medic Sky One by University Medical Center Utrecht
Best Serious Game Student Category: Garden Defense by University of Central Florida
Best Serious Game Government Category: First Person Cultural Trainer by TRADOC Intelligence Support Activity
Best Mobile Serious Game: Patriot Missile Electric Power Plant App by c2 Technologies
Special Emphasis Award – Adaptive Force Training: Bushudo – The Way of the Radical by University of Wisconsin-Madison
People’s Choice Winner: Quality Tycoon by Northrup Grumman

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