This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge! As the SGS&C IPT looks to plan for a special celebration of the Challenge in 2015, it’s especially exciting to revisit the history and how the SGS&C came to be what it is today.
Immediately after the 2005 I/ITSEC, the Naval Air Warfare Commanding Officer, Capt. Larry McCracken, requested a “special” special event. There were three existing issues coalescing into SGS&C: Government entities were unsure of gaming as an instructional form of media; although Industry saw the potential, they were unsure of Serious Gaming as a niche market; and students, even as their interests continued to grow, were still unaware of Serious Gaming as an employment avenue.
At this time, there was no existing platform for promotion and exhibition of game-based training opportunities ala the Independent Games Festival (IGF) at Game Developers Conference, it seemed to the group driving the Serious Game initiative that I/ITSEC was a logical location to showcase Serious Games and their associated technologies.
That next fall, in 2006, the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge at I/ITSEC under NTSA sponsorship began, led by IPT Chair, Kent Gritton (NAWCTSD) and Deputy Chair, Curtis Conkey (NAWCTSD).
The first year was one for learning for the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge, as well as one that was struggling to work through many self-imposed restrictions.
Based on the mythical “garage programmer,” there were company size restrictions, company financial restrictions and restrictions that prohibited no government funded entries.
However, the committee learned quite a bit in its first year. For starters, it was time to evaluate the restrictions, which were initially set in place. Many Serious Games, as it turns out, had government funding ties of one sort or another.
And although there was a cash award incentive, it may have sounded enticing, but as it turns out, it wasn’t the primary incentive to enter the challenge. For the participants, recognition was the primary incentive.
And finally, after reviews and discussions, the committee determined that there was a difference between a Serious Game and a Simulation using gaming technology, and developed some principles to support this conclusion.
All and all, in its first year, Serious Games Showcase & Challenge had begun its journey. The Challenge attracted nine entries and featured six finalists. The finalists were:
• Steel Beasts Professional by eSims Games
• Point of Attack 2 by HPS Interactive
• Harpoon 3 Professional by Advanced Gaming Systems
• Gator Six by WILL Interactive
• Modern Air Power by John Tiller Games
• Game DIS (GDIS) by Research Network Incorporated.
Those nine entries and six finalists helped to kick off an event that would eventually grow exponentially, and garner the attention and support of an entire I/ITSEC community in the years to come.