How does one become an SGS&C finalist and ultimately an award winner?  The first thought that an evaluator might have is the old adage “I know it when I see it,” but there are a few basics that are often overlooked that will make a serious game entry a solid contender.  Here are a few tips that might help:

Clearly describe the game in the submission form — The submission form helps the evaluators understand what the player will learn through your game.  Remember that the SGS&C is focused on serious games that have a learning or training objective.  Also, make sure you are providing all of the supporting materials necessary to evaluate your game.  A checklist if provided on the Submissions page.

Ensure that the game mechanics support learning — The higher scoring games have game mechanics that directly support the learning that is taking place as opposed to secondary activity or a reward for accomplishing a goal.  Entries where the learning mostly or entirely takes place in the game tend to be scored higher for effectiveness and innovation.

Make sure your game and peripherals install easily — The SGS&C Submissions Team makes every effort to ensure that a game installs and runs correctly, but there are often problems.  Clear installation instructions along with any particular requirements for hardware and software are helpful.  Unique peripheral devices should come with diagnostic software so that correct operation can be verified outside the game.  The game should be easy to install by someone with a moderate amount of computer technology knowledge.

Beyond these basics, it might be useful to review the finalists and award winners from last year.  See what distinguishes the SGS&C 2012 award winners from the finalists:

SGS&C 2012 Finalists can be found here along with links to some of the games.

SGS&C 2012 award winners can be found here.

Good luck!  Submissions open August 1.

Inside the Challenge is an occasional series about process of conducting the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (SGS&C).