The 4th International Conference on Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications (VS-GAMES’12) will be held between 29-31 October, in Genoa, Italy 2012. The emergence of serious or meaningful uses of games technologies and virtual world applications have been swift and dramatic over the last years. As a result, there has been little time to develop the theoretical and academic rigor in the emerging field. This problem has been exacerbated by the largely technological drive of the applications, with often little time to consider more user-centered approaches to design and use of serious applications of games and virtual world technologies. Another factor affecting the field has been the general aspects of convergence between new technologies, such as AI applications, augmented reality, mobile technologies, GPS technologies, sensor technologies and social software. Together, this has presented potential for developing new technologies based upon immersive and interactive interfaces and has in parallel produced many unanswered questions in terms of the usage of the formats. As a result, there is a clear need to consider new frameworks, theories, methods and design strategies for making serious applications of games and virtual world technologies more effective and useful as part of education, health and training.
The 4th International Conference in Games and Virtual Worlds for Serious Applications aims to meet the significant challenges of the cross-disciplinary community that work around these serious application areas by bringing the community together to share case studies of practice, to present new frameworks, methodologies and theories and to begin the process of developing shared cross-disciplinary outputs. In order to achieve this main aim the conference will pioneer new methods for bringing together and supporting communities of practice emerging in themed areas beyond the duration of the conference. Using the conference as an ignition to support a wider aspiration to form and sustain a community of practice around the field. The term 'Serious Games' covers a broad range of applications from flash-based animations to totally immersive and code driven 3D environments where users interface with large volumes of data through sophisticated and interactive digital interfaces. This shift towards immersive world applications being used to support education, health and training activities marks the beginning of new challenges that offer real scope for collaborative and multi-disciplinary research solutions, and real opportunities for innovative development.