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Designing and building serious games based on situated psychological agents

Designing and building serious games based on situated psychological agents
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In the last decade, the "serious games" label has become widespread to indicate a varied field of production of digital games to be used in various educational, training, educational and psychological assessment contexts. Even if our research group has often resorted to this name to communicate the nature of our "things" I have always had a natural aversion to associating "seriousness" with "playfulness". According to Giampiero Dossena, one of the most excellent Italian game experts, or the game is funny, or it is not a game (Dossena, 1993). Another element of perplexity in dealing with the topic of "serious gaming" is the classificatory attempt in systematizing the various "serious" games in families and typologies to define the distinctive features of a game authentically (or seriously) "serious". Well, I don't know if what we have produced in the last twenty years thanks to many research projects funded by European programs in the Laboratory of Artificial Natural Cognition of the University of Naples "Federico II" and at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council can be labeled as "serious" and as a "game". For sure, we have tried to develop learning environments that can at least capture the interest of the user if it is not possible to amuse him/her. The design methodology that shapes the examples described in the following part of this booklet (extensively described in Dell'Aquila et al., 2017) is introduced here. Obviously, our method is just one of the many ways to realize game-based digital learning tools.