Serious Games and Open Source: Practice and Futures

Co-located with The 5th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2009)

Skövde, Sweden, 3-6 June 2009

The workshop will be organised June 6th, 2009.

Computer games are increasingly used throughout our society with people playing on the bus, at home and at work. Computer games thus affect larger and larger number of people and areas in the society of today. There are even advocates that games create better environments for learning than traditional classrooms. This situation motivates the use of games and game technology for additional purposes, e.g. education, training, health care or marketing.

This new use distinguishes between entertainment games and games for other uses, with the term Serious Games being the most common for the latter category. Although the term itself is well established in both academia and industry, there is no current single definition of the concept. However, a common component of these definitions is that is the addition of pedagogy (activities that educate or instruct, thereby imparting knowledge or skill) that makes games serious. For the purpose of this workshop we define Serious Games as:

Serious Games are games that engage users in their pursuit, and contribute to the achievement of a defined purpose other than pure entertainment (whether or not the user is consciously aware of it).

A Serious Game can be achieved through a spectrum ranging from the mere utilisation of game technology for non-entertainment purposes to development of specifically designed games for some non-entertainment purpose or the use and/or adaptation of commercial games for non-entertainment purposes. We also propose that any combination of the above would constitute a feasible way to achieve the desired effect.

There are numerous examples of serious games from various sectors. But what are the possible roles that Open Source Software can take in facilitating the development of a new generation of serious games? Many serious games are being created through the use of open source game engines and game asset creation tools. Game modding, itself an idea that often relies on retail computer games that are packaged with software development kits to create new game variants, are generally licensed form non-commercial redistribution with source code using a open source software license. But the intersection of Games and Open Source is perhaps just beginning. More ideas are being pursued, including how to facilitate games that rely on user-created content, or that incorporate social media (e.g., YouTube videos, Flickr photos, audio recording remixes), and social networking services to create new modes of game play. Games and Open Source Software also help serve the needs of independent game developers who work with limited resources, outside large commercial game studios.

Workshop aim

The workshop aims to bring people from the Open Source and Serious Games communities together to discuss the current status of the area and to find a common future where the two areas can enrich each other.

Serious Games and Open Source: Practice and Futures will feature position statements and presentations which will be open for discussion.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Current examples of serious games applications
  • Current examples of open source tools and techniques for creating serious games applications
  • Practical and theoretical perspectives of open source in serious games
  • Open source approaches to game modding and user created content
  • The intersection of game culture and free/open source software culture
  • Innovative combinations of game play mechanics, social media, and social networking, and open source software
  • Experience in developing games using open source software tools, techniques, concepts, or game engines
Submissions The workshop seeks the submission of a two or more page position paper that addresses the topics pertaining to serious games and open source software. These position papers should be prepared and submitted with the following due dates in mind.
  • Email intent to submit: 28th February 2009 (not mandatory, only for organizational purposes)
  • Deadline for submission: 22nd March 2009
  • Paper notification: 8th April 2009

Papers should conform to the OSS 2009 Format and Submission Guidelines available at:
Accepted authors are expected to also register for the main OSS 2009 conference (see

Submissions should be sent by email attachment to

Program Committee:
Per Backlund, University of Skovde, Sweden
Bjorn Lundell, University of Skovde, Sweden
Walt Scacchi, UC Irvine, USA
Rosario de Chiara, University of Salerno, Italy
Henrik Gustavsson, University of Skovde, Sweden
Vittorio Scarano, University of Salerno, Italy
Robert J. Stone University of Birmingham and HFI DTC, UK


  • April 17th, 2009

    Additional information about the tutorial has been added.

  • March 31st, 2009

    The program has been added to the menu.

  • March 20th, 2009

    The US National Science Foundation will support travel and attendance for a diverse group of US PhD students to participate in the international doctoral consortium at the OSS2009 conference. For further information, please contact Prof. Kevin Crowston

  • February 25th, 2009

    Added new abstracts and titles for keynotes

  • February 5th, 2009

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  • January 20th, 2009

    The review and submission pages have been moved to a better equipped server at Syracuse. Please contact the webmaster if there are any problems with submitting reviews.

  • January 15th, 2009

    Added a new section about the OSS2009 Workshops

  • November 30th, 2008

    Added a flyer and bios for each of the two keynote speakers

  • November 3rd, 2008

    Updated information on travel and conference venue to include estimate of cost for participation.

  • October 20th, 2008

    Submission link added to author kit page

  • October 10th, 2008

    Updated author kit with information from Springer

  • August 26th, 2008

    Call for papers published