Serious Games System (SGS): What is it, where does it come from, and who is it for?

Introduction to an adaptive paradigm for serious games

June 21, 2024
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5 min read
a hand placing Story Cubes dice on a table with dixit cards and lego bricks

This article is part of our series dedicated to the world of Serious Games and it is also available in Italian and in Spanish.

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To find out more, or get your organisation involved in this approach, contact us here: https://cocoon-pro.com/get-in-touch/


Serious Games System emerges as a way to transition from a guiding principle of “trust the method” to a guiding principle of “trust the people”. — Stelio Verzera

Sprouting from a decade-long collaboration and deeply grounded in years of action research and experimentation at international level, Serious Games System (SGS) introduces an adaptive paradigm for the use of serious games, designed to put people at the center. For real.

What is SGS?

SGS is a modular framework for using Serious Games, which is highly adaptable to any context, and allows to effectively integrate any game one might have at hand in any situation. Indeed, the primary value of the method lies in the power of game to unlock the inherent knowledge within people, something particularly valuable when facing complex challenges. The other cornerstone of the method is that it is a system, thus allowing for flexible adaptation of tools and processes to the specific context of application.

SGS is rooted in the power of storytelling for us humans and has strong theoretical foundations in the new cognitive sciences, the development of socio-technical organizational systems, complexity science, and related disciplines.

The method enables access to play as a language to express what we think and feel, even when we are not fully aware of our thoughts and emotions, making it possible to:

  • explore complex issues in depth.
  • generate and focus on new options and possibilities.
  • make effective decisions.

These three areas correspond precisely to the three possible application phases of the method (Insight, Possibilities, Decisions), which can be combined depending on the overall goal of the intervention. At the core of SGS, there is a transversal set of five game patterns called H.E.A.R.T. (Heed, Explore, Align, Relate, Transform), that is to say five possible ways of playing. When combined, these patterns shape a journey, which is defined not by what we do but by why we do it. It is through this journey that participants’ experience unfolds in an SGS workshop.

For more information, you can download the Serious Games System Playbook.

How did SGS originate?

SGS was born from the magic of the encounter between Juego Serio and Cocoon Pro back in 2013, and from the subsequent years spent playing and learning from each other. Between Lucio Margulis (Juego Serio) and Stelio Verzera (Cocoon Pro), driven by common values and a shared desire to make a difference in the world of work, sparked a connection that evolved into a lasting and fruitful collaboration. This collaboration has never been afraid to innovate and go beyond the status quo, constantly seeking ways of working that allow humans to express themselves fully.

In this context, starting in 2016, a group of facilitators from various backgrounds and extensive experience initiated the development of a comprehensive and adaptable application system. This co-creation process was significantly influenced by Lucio Margulis’ ongoing experimentation worldwide. In the light of the 2020–2021 pandemic, this workflow received a significant boost in response to the urgent call for an open application version that would be closer to the needs of practitioners and participants.

Thus, the Serious Games System (SGS) methodology was born, drawing on years of experience with LEGO® Serious Play® and intensive study and action-research in the use and methodological development of other serious play tools.

Who is SGS for?

So, who is SGS for? It’s for anyone who believes that human potential goes beyond logical-rational thinking and is interested in unleashing its full expression, through serious play and tools that allow access to the knowledge embedded in the subconscious, emotions, body, and intuitions.

The application fields of SGS are broad and encompass the individual, family, teams, organizations, and communities. As a result, various professionals working in these fields to promote development and effectiveness can benefit from it. These may include coaches, counselors, facilitators, consultants, as well as team leaders, HR professionals, managers, and entrepreneurs. This list is by no means exhaustive.

For those already familiar with the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology or other facilitation techniques that involve Serious Games, delving into the SGS world can offer an opportunity to enhance and broaden their intervention skills.

On the other hand, the power and immediacy of the method make it accessible even to those with limited prior experience in using Serious Games.

To get an idea of what we’re talking about, watch the video of the world’s first SGS training, which took place in March 2023 in Rome, and listen to the voices of the participants.

In conclusion, SGS is a highly adaptable framework that draws its life force from the ancestral power of games in unlocking people’s knowledge. It is built on thousands of hours of experience, study, and experimentation and has solid scientific foundations. It is a tool that is powerful, profound, and sensitive, allowing for the exploration of complex themes, the generation of unexpected options, and the making of effective decisions.

We are proud to finally introduce it to the world and are curious to hear what you think!

Are you interested in bringing SGS to your context? Download the SGS Open Source Playbook or reach out to us at play@cocoon-pro.com


You might also be interested in reading: “The System version of LEGO Serious Play”


This article is part of our series dedicated to the world of Serious Games and it is also available in italian and in spanish.

If you would like to receive updates on this and other topics related to the evolving world of work, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://cocoon-pro.com/#subscribe

To find out more, or get your organisation involved in this approach, contact us here: https://cocoon-pro.com/get-in-touch/

This is the account of our staff at Cocoon Pro. Wish to know who are the people in Cocoon curating our content production?Have a look at the people page on our website here. For any question or feedback we would be happy to hear from you! Reach out here: hello@cocoon-pro.com