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Game makers pursue serious concerns

Glucoboy, a glucose meter that can be connected to a Nintendo GameBoy, will be available for kids with diabetes this spring. SuperCharged!, released last year, helps physics students understand electromagnetism; Virtual U, released in 2001, lets players take on the role of a university president.

By the end of next year, the Federal Budget Game — how do you solve the deficit? — will be available to play online.

The U.S. military early on recognized the use of "serious games" — the term used to describe video games for non-entertainment purposes. The Pentagon spends more than $4 billion a year on simulation equipment and war games, and this week will tell what it has learned to other NATO members at a conference in the Hague titled "Exploiting Commercial Games for Military Use."

'Serious factor' trumps 'fun factor'

But there's more to "serious games" than the U.S. Army's Full Spectrum Warrior and America's Army. Health care providers, college professors and other professionals in public and private sectors are also developing non-entertainment games whose "fun factor" ranks below their "serious factor" — as with Glucoboy. In fact, this kind of outside-the-Xbox thinking represents the next frontier for the lucrative interactive gaming industry, which had $7 billion in software sales last year, thanks to the popularity of games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and NBA Live 2004.

News source: MSNBC

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