Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live From GDC: Are Serious Games and Corporate Customers In Sync

Establishing Sustainable Strategic Investment for SG

Session Background

In the last 18 months, before the economic events of the fall, activity in the Serious Games space from the corporate sector was beginning to achieve sizable momentum. However, the existing projects still seem exceptions to the rule which is that many corporations still seem out of sync with games, and vice-versa.

To begin to deal with this issue, such that it could result in better takeaway for the Serious Games community, the organizers of the Serious Games Summit began a round of Internet discussions trying to ferret out a community analysis of how the world of games, and Serious Games, can garner even more attention and revenues from the corporate sector now and in the future.

The Serious Games Summit session Are Serious Games and Corporate Customers In Sync, having Ben Sawyer (Co-founder, Digitalmill) and David Warhol (President, Realtime Associates Inc.) as speakers, presented the summary of that community discussion in a digestible format for further audience feedback and takeaway.

Here is the debriefing of yesterday's session, which gives us...

Food for Thought
  • Usually we look for games as a tool for training, but actually we could make games for a better work product - we would do our job as we play the game.
  • Business is getting more complex and games have the ability to depict how complex systems work.
  • Aside from some visible work-for-hire, the vast majority of corporate interests are not investing in games or heavily in games.
Simple Fundamentals
  • Game and game info sites are blocked by Corporate firewalls
  • Most Corporate PCs lacking strong graphic systems
  • Many IT departments have big security management issues with non-browser executables
  • May use lower-version Flash installs and even older browsers
  • Some companies are moving to even lower-end hardware
  • There is no single entry point for games as there is for Web and e-business or advertising
  • Average gamer not yet in position of authority
  • Average Corporate Manager/CEO not an avid gamer
Corporate Time
  • Reluctant to put people offline where they are unproductive (very expensive)
  • Can not ask people to train in their "free time" because it becomes paid time and is against the law without compensation

Business Model Issues

  • Corporations are focused on how anything can increase revenues or reduce costs
  • What's leading: Communication with customers; Easy Production; Packaged Solutions
Corporate Training Market
  • Large but completely scattered; resellers with scale simply don't exist
  • Still based in paperwork
Corporate Interests
  • Java, Flash, XML, AJAX/Perl
  • Highly secure
  • Manage all installs and executables from central location
  • 2D and increasingly mobile
Game Industry
  • C++, C #, Flash, Lua, Python, Some Java
  • Personal firewall at best
  • Install/Uninstall at best
  • 3D and increasingly console & mobile
Technology Integration Needed
Who has sustained relationships with Corporations?
  • Large technology integrators (Accenture, IBM,...)
  • Traditional enterprise software (MS,...)
The Challenge
  • Can we target the actual core processes and cultural artifacts that leverage results?
  • Can we develop games that incorporate the workflow?
  • Can we move away from the dominant model of WFH?
  • Can we establish sustainable strategic investment?