Example “Edutainment” games

These are a few of the medically-oriented “Edutainment”-style serious games that have been used in my institution. Although Edutainment is sometimes thought of as the poor stepchild of the Serious Games world, we’ve found these to be an inexpensive way to add some variety and interest to certain types of training.

Medical Gross Anatomy Games (University of Michigan Medical School)

If you need to train people in memorized facts, calculations, quick answers, etc., these can be an effective way to add some engagement to the process.

The engagement generated by the game need not be strictly relevant to the subject matter. Competition can add a lot of pull to inspire people to do more practice or focus harder.

In 2005, a team at the Medical School did a study using a Jeopardy game to teach medical students the basics of diagnosis and treatment of ectopic pregnancy. The conclusion of the published article states that although the two methods (lecture and game) were about equally effective, the students found the game more stimulating and interactive. As one of the key concepts of adult learning is active participation, they feel this type of activity is an improvement over passive lecture formats. A similar game from the Anatomy department is shown below.

Jeopardy-style games have been successfully used for quite a while at the Medical School, and they’ve put some of their game templates on the web for download:

University of Michigan Medical School Medical Gross Anatomy Games site

List of Games on the Anatomy site

Choose category

Who wants to be a millionaire doctor?

millionaire - a question



Blitzopoly, created by Kathy Pederson and Kristen VanDerelzen of UMHS’s Infection Control Services Department, was aimed at training people about infection prevention during a sort of health fair for staff. Players would roll dice and move their piece. There were three case studies and a “Chance” square on each side. The case studies were repeated so it was likely all cases would be hit in the short time allowed for game play. Each case had answer
cards and players had to choose the best answer for each one.

The educators found that the game worked best with groups of 3 to 5 people. People would talk and discuss the answers. Players were given a short pre-game briefing on the topic of infection prevention. Playing the game emphasized and aided retention of the main points of the briefing. Besides the educational benefits, they found that the process of developing the game created its own social benefits to the department as well.


 Blitzopoly game board


Briefing materials



Some of the case study cards used in the game

JCAHO Trivia

JCAHO Trivia was used to train staff in some of the required information they needed to know for a Joint Commission visit. There had also been many other types of instruction, and this was just one learning option available. 


We decided that this game had to be asynchronous: in other words, users had to be able to log in day or night and participate, without worrying if anyone else was online to compete against. Since we wanted the training to continue for a few months, the content had to be kept fresh. Content had to be very easy to create and to load. We wanted to attract people to the game, so we capitalized on the competitiveness of our audience and divided the nurses up into teams, based on their units.


Another key element was there must be no downside to this game. Players must not be penalized for wrong answers – although we did try to give corrective feedback that would help them learn. Players could choose any of the 4 topics offered, so they could play in their comfort zone. We tried to make it so that every time they played they felt they were contributing toward their team’s score. The real time scoreboards were especially effective in generating interest.

question card

A lesson learned was that content is always the bottleneck. Providing high quality content was a challenge, particularly since so MUCH content was needed for this game.

However the game was extremely popular and players got attached to their teams and there was a lively team rivalry for several months. 


For a detailed description of game play and rationale, see this article


Virtual Cart

This game (shown in a state of development) trains cardiac arrest teams in the location of each item within the crash cart. The learner is presented with an item to find. Clicking on the handles opens each drawer. Items are dragged to the target to be checked. If the correct item has been found, the student is rewarded in
some manner still to be determined, and another item is requested.
After 6 items the game ends.

Variations considered for different learning styles:

  • Have an absolute time limit on each round.
  • Have students’ names recorded with their scores – high score
    wins, sort of like in video games where you record your high scores
    with your initials.
  • A cardiac monitor would blip along as time passes, with
    authentic room noises reaching a crescendo if the learner took too long
    to find the item. Finally – flat line on the monitor!



    Design: Steve Burdick, game development, Ellen Meiselman

  • References
    O’Leary, Sharon, et. al. Educational games in an obstetrics and gynecology core curriculum. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2005) 193, 1848-51
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2005.07.059. LINK