What do you mean when you say your serious game has been validated? Experimental vs. Test Validity

At many serious games conferences I attend, people talk about the pressing need for more serious games to be validated. People talk about the handful of examples of serious games that have been validated. I assume this means that scientific trials were conducted that validated the use of these serious game to impact outcomes.

But when I listen more closely, sometimes I  hear people say that they have “validated” their serious game at various steps of the development process. Humph. How do you validate an incomplete game for effectiveness? Then it turns out they never conducted a trial to evaluate the efficacy of their game to impact outcomes.  But they still say they “validated” their game. How can that be?

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