Balancing play, meaning and reality: the design philosophy of levee patroller

Casper Harteveld, Rui Guimaraes, Igor Mayer, Rafael Bidarra
Simulation and Gaming, Volume 41, Number 3, page 316--340 - 2010
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Most serious games have been developed without a proper and comprehensive design theory. To contribute to the development of such a theory, this article presents the underlying design philosophy of LEVEE PATROLLER, a game to train levee patrollers in the Netherlands. This philosophy stipulates that the design of a digital serious game is a multiobjective problem in which trade-offs need to be made. Making these trade-offs takes place in a design space defined by three equally important components: (a) Play, (b) Meaning, and (c) Reality. The various tensions between these three components result in design dilemmas and trilemmas that make it difficult to balance a serious game. Each type of tension is illustrated with one or more examples from the design of LEVEE PATROLLER.

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BibTex references

@Article { HGMB10a,
  author       = "Harteveld, Casper and Guimaraes, Rui and Mayer, Igor and Bidarra, Rafael",
  title        = "Balancing play, meaning and reality: the design philosophy of levee patroller",
  journal      = "Simulation and Gaming",
  number       = "3",
  volume       = "41",
  pages        = "316--340",
  year         = "2010",
  note         = "doi: 10.1177/1046878108331237
  url          = ""

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