Friday, August 5, 2011

Interview with Clark Aldrich: The Genesis Behind Serious Play


Serious Games challenging us to play a better future


Future Making Serious Games interviews Clark Aldrich, Conference Director, Serious Play Conference, and CEO, Clark Aldrich Designs

Clark Aldrich Designs has put together Serious Play, the upcoming conference on Serious Games that I believe the industry needs right now. It will be held in Redmond, Washington on August 23 to 25th and typically of Clark Aldrich’s approach it will focus on a pragmatic take with an eye towards the big picture.

Future Making Serious Games chatted with Clark Aldrich, one of the top educational Serious Games designers in the world, in a recap of the genesis behind Serious Play conference and its development.

FMSG: What was the genesis behind Serious Play?

“All kinds of organizations, from corporate to military to academic, have realized Serious Games and educational simulations can be used to create educational content that is more effective and more engaging, and is even less expensive. 

“However, our leaders need pragmatic help. They need to know how to find the talent, the project management framework, the deliverables and the right approaches to ensure success.

“The Serious Play conference is all about giving this second generation of Serious Games practitioners, managers and developers (as well as faculty teaching Serious Game design), who are more focused on their organizations' strategy than advocating any new approach, the tools they need to be highly successful.”

FMSG: Why are you calling the conference a “boot camp”?

“All our sessions will be intense, specific and pragmatic. We are focused on building skills.

“There will be "lab" sessions, for instance, where the people in the room will participate in games. That will make the conference fun, engaging and provide real examples of interactive learning.  

“As with Serious Games, the coursework is designed to build competence and conviction, not just awareness.”

FMSG: How did you select your speakers?

“We have drawn together an outstanding collection of expert Serious Game managers, developers and faculty. Serious Play will literally be a who's who of people who produce and deploy top tier Serious Games. 

“In fact, if you added up all of the actual games produced and deployed by the people at this event, it would be 10 times any other conference of its type. This "coal under the fingernail" criterion means that the sessions will be filled with the kind of nuance and depth of knowledge that is highly valuable to the attendees, beyond even the stated topic of a session.”

FMSG: What will an attendee be able to take away?

“Attendees will have the best of both worlds -- a diversity and depth of experience, organized by a common, detailed, pragmatic process. They will leave the event qualified to be successful.  

FMSG: Tell us about your award program?

Serious Play has both an awards competition and a certification.  

“We are looking for the best of the best in Serious Games in each of the tracks. We will be crowning a few games or sims epitomizing the best possible learning objectives and program objectives. We know that winners here will influence a lot of future designs, so we are being very careful. So far, we have had a record number of submissions, so we are excited.

“The Serious Games that earn our certification will have met a unique set of design criteria that maximizes the ability of the program to be effective when used by an enterprise. These criteria include rigorous interface and level designs, as well as other structure. Those serious games that are worth looking at from an enterprise will be identified here.”

FMSG: Who will be judging the competition?

“Academic and corporate thought leaders that have already begun judging, to select finalists. The final judging will be done onsite, the day before the conference begins.”