The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (SGS&C) was born in 2005 when Team Orlando leaders felt a strong need to stimulate industry creativity and generate institutional interest toward the use of digital game technology and approaches for training and education. They formed a partnership with the National Training Simulation and Association (NTSA), the organizers of Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), and the first SGS&C was born at I/ITSEC 2006. From there, the SGS&C team grew into a volunteer-driven group, led each year by both an industry and government representative, and actively supported by Team Orlando. SGS&C has been a growing staple of I/ITSEC event ever since.
In 2012, SGS&C started reaching out to game challenges around the world. The new initiative allowed winners of coordinated Serious Games contests from international markets to become automatic finalists at SGS&C. SimTecT 2012 Serious Games Showcase was the inaugural international competition providing a business and student finalist to that year’s SGS&C at I/ITSEC. The region continues to provide finalists with SimTecT combining forces with the Australasian Simulation Congress.
SGS&C formed a partnership with Orange County (Florida) Public Schools (OCPS)in 2013 to select the first Students’ Choice Awardwinner. Middle and high school students around the county collectively evaluated select games from a student perspective to determine the award. OCPS students and teachers get the opportunity to learn how games can be used for learning and education while participating in the Challenge.
In 2015, SGS&C extended its international partnership to include the Brazilian Independent Games Festival (BIG), the first and largest festival of independent games in Latin America. Every year, BIG selects the best independent games in the world selecting games based on visuals, sound, narrative, gameplay and innovation. The BIG Festival also has a section devoted to educational games, and provided the Challenge with one finalist in its first year of collaboration.
What is a Serious Game?
The definition of a “serious game” varies among different communities and different parts of the world, but a qualifying SGS&C serious game must:
Have clearly defined, measurable learning objectives;
Provide players with a clearly identified challenge/problem;
Make use of game play dynamics and/or gaming technology; and
Provide players with positive/negative feedback with respect to progress toward the Game’s challenge and achievement of learning objectives.
Additionally, the Challenge requires that entries:
Be original games (as opposed to novel uses of existing games); and
NOT be modifications to existing games.
The Challenge Process
SGS&C contestants are invited to submit their serious game when the submission period opens. This and other important dates are prominently displayed on the SGS&C home page. Contestants must follow the process outlined on the Submissions page and comply with the Rules. Winners from SimTecT Serious Games Showcase are given automatic entry as a finalist under the international collaboration initiative.
After the submission period closes, the SGS&C Planning Committee conducts a Downselect process where the finalists are selected and notified that they should start making their plans to attend I/ITSEC. The Challenge then enters the evaluation period where an esteemed panel of evaluators determines the winners of the awards in each category. Middle and high school students from various school systems will play and evaluate select games to collectively select the winner of the Students’ Choice Award.
I/ITSEC is the showcase event. All finalists are provided free entry to the conference as well as space in the SGS&C booth to demonstrate their game to a worldwide training, simulation and education audience in Orlando, Florida. The I/ITSEC audience will pick the final SGS&C award – the People’s Choice Best Game. All award winners are announced on the final day of the conference and invited to the I/ITSEC Awards Reception. Finalists are also invited to sit with the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge Planning Committee at the Awards Banquet.