The 2010/02/25 at 15:41
What do World of Warcraft, the video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Vivendi Games and Conducting a Sales Interview, the serious game developed by Daesign for Renault Academy, the automobile manufacturer’s world training centre, have in common? Very little one might say. In both cases, players immerse themselves in a virtual real-time 3D universe with which they interact through a computer. The games are on DVD, Internet or Smartphone. The same chain of players are also involved: the studio that develops the game with its engineers and graphic artists, the commissioning publisher who markets it to distributors who sell it to wholesalers and so indirectly, to retailers.
But the principal feature of the serious game is the professional expertise that will enable users to acquire knowledge of their job or even to train, and which will be assessed before they can move on to the next stage. Without the expertise of the various army trades and theatres of operation, the Script’Games studio would never have been able to make the first real serious game, America’s Army for the American forces. BreakAway’s Pulse and TruSim’s Interactive Trauma-Trainer – games for training medical staff – would never have seen the light of day without the expertise of surgeons present in the studios. “For this reason, the serious games sector is fragmented. A studio positioning itself in the health sector will have great difficulty working for the aeronautics or automobile industries,” says Laurent Michaud, a consultant specialising in digital entertainment at IDATE, who published an international study on serious games in 2008. “The various procedures used in the profession have in be simulated in real conditions. Professional expertise must be integrated into the software. It’s a job for the specialists.”
This is notably the case in the aeronautics sector. Companies such as CAE, Oktal, Operantis, Thales and Vega offer e-learning solutions. For its part, Operantis used Vertice’s real-time 3D engine to design and create serious training games for pilots, technicians and maintenance engineers in the aeronautics industry. “Besides our pedagogical designers, we have two pilots, three engineers, and two technicians in aeronautics maintenance, two general mechanical engineers, a railway engineer, another from the space industry and yet another from the nuclear sector. In all, about a third of our staff are professional specialists. This is the price we pay for a place in the various industrial sectors,” says Managing Director, Jacques-André Dupuy. “The investment is high, admittedly. But it means our qualified experts who have been certified by the competent authorities are quickly on good terms with our clients who are obviously far more specialised than we are. This is how we are able to design relevant training products.”
All Operantis’s clients are international. For example, the serious game developed with SuperJet International for Sukhoy planes allows us to train pilots on a flight simulator at a cost that is 100 times less! Which is what interests very many airlines such as El Al, Finnair, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Royal Air Morocco. “Above all, we can simulate breakdowns and fires breaking out. It would be unthinkable to do this for real since it is forbidden to bring about a breakdown on a plane in flight!” continues Jacques-André Dupuy. “In a virtual cockpit, we teach the pilot the entire procedure for repairing the breakdown or putting out the fire. We also analyse all his reactions. This is highly educational.” This process and the educational content are even more thorough for the maintenance staff. Operantis has developed procedures for identifying breakdowns as well as the processes of dismantling and reassembling parts for the entire EADS/Finmeccanica ATR range for Eurocopter, Airbus Training and for Superjet International, an Italian company that is responsible for maintenance support for the Sukhoy 100. “It takes 6 to 7 months’ work to develop the serious game relevant to a particular type of aeroplane in its range. And the cost of a project varies from 500,000 to 1 million euros,” says Jacques-André Dupuy. The kind of budget that corresponds to strategic information technology projects.