Onlea and the Serious Game Jam

A blog post by Theo Keeler, Development Team Lead

On March 29th, Onlea had its very first internal serious game jam. That sounds great, but what does it mean?

What’s a Serious Game?

You can think of a serious game as gamification approached from the opposite direction; Rather than adding game-like elements to a traditional learning experience, a game is designed to convey a learning objective through the process of playing it. This could be understanding the layout of a location, physical laws, or used to convey historical events or social concepts. This gains all the engagement benefits of gamification while also allowing support of popular gaming platforms and giving students familiar with gaming a familiar environment to learn. It also allows for easy introduction of a continuing narrative that helps foster better understanding and analysis of an overall course or educational series’ core learning objectives.

What’s a Game Jam?

A game jam is a time limited competition where several teams create games based off of a specific theme. This encourages participants to quickly and efficiently plan out their work to ensure they can meet these tight constraints, while allowing multiple explorations of the same topic rather than a single project.

Our jam was a single day long, and we built three games around the topic of exploring traditional vs nontraditional forms of authority.

How’d it turn out?

The games we produced reflected a wide variety of games - from narrative adventures to puzzle games, and all of them explored the theme in new and exciting ways. It was amazing to see just how much the team was able to build in such a small amount of time, and we’re very proud of what they accomplished. Some of the games explored the theme directly through narrative with characters interacting with one another to explore which authorities the player would decide to follow, while others explored the topic through game mechanics by giving the player conflicting tutorials on how to play the game and observing which they followed.

We’re looking forward to expanding on our game jam skills with another game jam in the next few months.

Want to develop serious games to transform your organization’s training? Get in contact with Onlea today at

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