That can depend, to quite a degree, upon whom you ask.
“A serious game is a name given to computer software that tries to achieve just that. While some people think that serious games and games for learning are synonymous, digital games can be used for ‘serious’ purposes other than learning. Serious games can be used for motivating people to exercise more. Serious games can be used for medical treatment. Serious games can be used as a marketing tool. These are just a few examples, and we will illustrate various application areas with many actual serious games in this book.”
The book in question is ‘Serious Games : Foundations, Concepts and Practice’ – Eds. Ralf Dörner, Stefan Göbel, Wolfgang Effelsberg, Josef Wiemeyer, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.
On the other hand, explains Professor Bart Simon [pictured right] of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada,
“This article initiates a provocation for a collective discussion of what we might call an unserious epistemology for the study and design of games. How can we find ways of taking the unseriousness of games seriously? Starting with the idea that most players take their games much less seriously than game studies scholars, I reflect on the importance of the idea of unseriousness for the theorization of gameplay as a sociocultural activity of last resort in a contemporary world defined by the grave seriousness of life.”
See: ‘Unserious’ in the ludological journal Games and Culture, September, 2016.