Serious Gaming

Team Zorg Enablers
Published on
Trends | Prevention and Healthy living


Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning”

– Diane Ackerman


Serious gaming includes all games with a main purpose other than pure entertainment. A serious game is often a video game but may come in other forms as well, including a physical board game, a card game or even something larger like an escape room [1]. Serious games may also use augmented reality, virtual reality and such. The purpose of a serious game usually revolves around education, training, stress reduction or behavioural change [2].


Applications & Benefits

Serious games are deployed in healthcare to improve general health, e.g. by instigating positive behavioural change, self-management or stimulating physical activity. Varying game elements and progress visualisations keep the player motivated [2]. The natural human desire to win and compete also make the use of serious games effective and entertaining to the user [3]. Winning is a sensation that humans like to pursue. Challenges can be completed by sharing knowledge, setting goals and communicating with other players. Some proven results have been obtained with serious games, e.g. in mental healthcare (GGZ) [4]. They can also function as an educational tool, both to inform patients and to train professionals [5-7]. Healthcare professionals are increasingly integrating the technology of serious games into their treatment plans to stimulate collaboration and accelerate the patient’s healing process [8]. Xploro is a platform that uses augmented reality and serious gaming to reduce anxiety and stress in young patients [9].



A recent study shows that the market value of gamification in healthcare will increase to over $65 billion by 2027 compared to $25.3 billion in 2020 [10]. The European market for serious games is one of the fastest growing in the world with an expected annual growth of around 15% between 2021 and 2026 [11]. Serious games are also deployed to improve the mental resilience of healthcare staff. A recent study showed that 60% of programmes for the improvement of healthcare staff well-being sponsored by employers now contains elements of play [12].


Driving forces

Increased awareness and acceptance
Growing evidence of effectiveness
New technological capabilities

Hindering forces

Lack of awareness and reluctance among potential users
Limited digital skills
A growing call for evidence

A large demand for evidence remains for people to be persuaded of the effectiveness of serious games. In addition, many people are not aware that serious games even exist. Still, acceptance is on the rise. Part of this is due to the fact that users are becoming increasingly tech savvy as well as scientific studies proving its effectiveness.



Serious games can be widely deployed and offer a wealth of opportunity for the healthcare industry. Although effectiveness can be difficult to prove, this is becoming easier since serious games are being implemented in healthcare more and more broadly. In the end, games support a more preventive and personalised healthcare system. They stimulate the movement towards an empowered patient and can be deployed to improve the training of healthcare professionals in their respective fields.


  1. King, D., et al., ‘Gamification’: influencing health behaviours with games, J R Soc Med, 2013. 106(3): p. 76-8.
  2. jörn Schuller, I.D., Felix Weninger, Lucas Paletta, Serious Gaming for Behavior Change: The State of Play. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Pervasive Computing, 2013. 12(3): p. 48-55.
  3. Mohan, D., et al., Efficacy of educational video game versus traditional educational apps at improving physician decision making in trauma triage: randomized controlled trial, BMJ, 2017. 359: p. j5416.
  4. King, D., et al., ‘Gamification’: influencing health beha-viours with games, J R Soc Med, 2013. 106(3): p. 76-8.
  5. Miller, S.M., The Potential of Serious Games as Mental Health Treatment, Portland State University, 2015
  6. Sipiyaruk, K., et al., A rapid review of serious games: From healthcare education to dental education, Eur J Dent Educ, 2018. 22(4): p. 243-257.
  7. Gentry, Serious Gaming and Gamification Education in Health Professions: Systematic Review, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2019. 21(3)
  8. Charlier, N., et al., Serious games for improving knowledge and self-management in young people with chronic conditions: a systematic review and meta-ana-lysis, J Am Med Inform Assoc, 2016. 23(1): p. 230-9.
  9. Cotton, B., 2021. Xploro targets US with new £1.5m funding round | Business Leader News. [online] Business Leader. Available at: [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  10. Global Market Insights, Inc. 2021. Healthcare Gamification Market Size – Global Industry Share Report 2027. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 August 2021].
  11. 2021. Europe Serious Gaming Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2021 – 2026). [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  12. 2021. Study Of Healthcare Gamification Market: Growing Demand In Medical Industry Globally. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 August 2021]