While many business leaders today may have fond memories of playing Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog as children or young adults, video games are no longer for only for the young, says Aléz Odendaal from Inspiring Interns. What has that got to do with business? Two words: serious games.

Case in point: in the US, adults over fifty accounted for 26 per cent of the total population of gamers, while those eighteen and under were only a marginally bigger group at 29 per cent. Games, then, are for everyone, being played by 2.2bn people worldwide, with a global market set to reach 108.9bn by the end of 2017.

Now, you may not think that this is an industry for you or your business. But there is one way you can harness this compelling medium for your gain, whether you’re an architect, accountant, lawyer, or entrepreneur. Two words - serious games.

‘Pardon, what?’ Serious games are developed to deliver knowledge, and initiate change. They are digital games designed specifically to a given purpose or project, and don’t have entertainment as their sole aim. The idea is to use video games as a method of delivery for certain beliefs and values.

Games are better suited to this role than other media platforms as they combine visuals, audio, and storytelling, with player agency - a key ingredient missing from video, sound, and the written word. This allows for greater immersion in a task, which in turn allows for an in-depth understanding of the game’s principles.

Now that you know what serious games are, here are three ways they can employ them to change your business for the good.

  • Communication of core values to clients and consumers
Whether you’re a start-up looking to do things differently, or a charity keen on spreading awareness, serious games can help you show your unique point of view to an audience able to invest in it.

Perhaps you want donors to empathise with the challenges of a terminal illness, or need to explain a complex, industry-specific idea in a way the general population can grasp - serious games can help.

  • Educational development of staff or students
Education is an important part of serious game development, because each model exists to pass on information in the most accessible way possible. Numerous case studies show the success of serious games within museums, at schools, and in universities.

Take these games, for example, endorsed by Cambridge’s Institute of Infectious Diseases, which aim to show the rapid spread of disease. Ask yourself what concepts you deal with that may be better communicated through this kind of strong engagement. Games can also help in an office setting, like Daesign’s Annual Appraisal, which aims to develop emotional intelligence around one-to-one feedback meetings between employer and employee.

  • Corporate responsibility
Millennials and Gen Z’s are highly interested in corporates who fulfil their responsibilities to the wider community. More than ever, now is the time to dive head-first into opportunities to lead social change.

One way to get the public interested in critical issues around social justice is to create awareness in a meaningful, impactful way. Animal activists have used serious games to show the goings-on in slaughterhouses, while they’ve also been useful in building discourse around the ongoing refugee crisis.

Setting up your corporate social responsibility measures with games also makes it more likely that your campaign goes viral - a win for your business, as well as the world.

Start here.

Although serious games can be exciting, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, see where your budget can make room for the development of an original game. Once you know what you have to work with, decide on what you want your game to tell people. Then it’s time to find a developer willing to work with your price range and brief.

The Serious Games Institute is a great resource for finding the right package to suit your needs, while you’ll find a comprehensive catalogue of serious game developers though the ELearning List.

If you don’t have the capital to produce a serious game from scratch through an external agency, companies like ITYStudio work as authoring tools that allow you to create your own. The most critical thing to realise is that the process will be daunting at first, but it can also be fun. Be willing to start out as rookie, and keep things light.

It’s a game, after all.

Aléz Odendaal is a graduate jobs writer for Inspiring Interns.