CM Seminar Series: Pamela Kato

Speaker Name: 
Pamela M. Kato, EdM, PhD
Speaker Organization: 
P. M. Kato Consulting
Start Time: 
Monday, February 24, 2020 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, February 24, 2020 - 1:15pm
Computational Media Department

How to Make Fun and Effective Serious Games


Serious games, or games with training and education as goals in addition to entertainment, are gaining attention as innovative ways to engage users in learning and behavior change. The serious games market is expanding and is expected to grow at a rate of 19% through 2023. Despite their popularity and growth, serious games still have a reputation for low production values and questionable efficacy to impact outcomes.

Dr. Kato will address current problems facing the field of Serious Game based on her successes and lessons learned working on award-winning serious games such as Re-Mission, Plan+It Commander, and Air Medic Sky 1. She will show how scientific research and theory-based design approaches can increase project efficiencies and promote broader impacts with serious games. She will provide specific examples of how soft skills (interpersonal, non-technical skills) are critical for managing diversity and complexity on large, high risk serious game projects. Dr. Kato will close the talk with her vision for an ideal professional training program to develop leaders in the field of serious games and plans for addressing diversity issues.


Pamela M. Kato is the owner of P. M. Kato Consulting in Mountain View, California where she helps multinational companies, government agencies, NGOs, and universities use the power of serious games for training, education, and therapy in healthcare. Before returning to Silicon Valley, Dr. Kato was Professor of Serious Games at Coventry University in the UK. Dr. Kato began her work on serious games as the co-founding President and CEO at HopeLab where she led groundbreaking work on the original Re-Mission, a widely acclaimed serious game (250,000+ copies distributed worldwide) for young people with cancer.

Dr. Kato’s research focuses on combining scientific evidence, behavioral theories, and team training in soft skills to make successful serious games. Dr. Kato is particularly interested in investigating how gameplay in immersive environments that model complex systems can profoundly impact cognitions and long-term behavior change.

Dr. Kato received an EdM in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (’89) and a PhD in Psychology from Stanford University (’96). She won an Individual Postdoctoral NRSA fellowship (’97-’99) from the National Cancer Institute to conduct research in Pediatric Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

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