Microsoft Exploring Educational Link to Videogames


craig mundie


Microsoft is using $1.5 million to start The Games for Learning Institute in a joint venture with New York University and other colleges to see whether videogames could enhance education. This won’t necessarily look at games designed for education, but popular games like World of Warcraft and Gears of War 2. The idea is that these games develop reaction and problem solving skills, and Microsoft is trying to find a link that could draw students into math, science, and technology based programs.

Despite Microsoft’s massive layoffs earlier this year, it’s nice to see them putting a nice chunk of change toward a good cause such as this. It also doesn’t hurt to put on a good face for the public, because we all know that the Jack Thompsons of the world are ready to make their voices heard at a moment’s notice. Studies and news reports (and silly editorials) claiming the ill effects of gaming on children and adolescents are a dime a dozen these days. There aren’t enough reports of gaming companies doing something beneficial.

Anyway, back to the educational link to videogames. The report states that "playing ‘World of Warcraft’ can encourage scientific thinking. The researchers noticed that players used mathematics and models to deal with situations in the game’s fantasy world."

So why not use a game’s fantasy world to deal with mathematics and scientific thinking? What I’m thinking is that educators could take the things that work so well in WoW, such as leveling and gaining experience, but instead of having players battle other players and whatnot, they would solve math problems and scientific equations and gain experience on their transcripts. Then, their final grades would be based on the level they achieve. OK, so maybe that’s a terrible idea, and I’m sure that the people at Microsoft and NYU could think of something much more appealing.

If they could find a way to get students addicted to school work in the same way that they get addicted to videogames, it sure would make a great story of how gaming changed the world in a good way. Imagine seeing "Achievement Unlocked: 100G Level 80 Mathematics" on your virtual report card.


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Author: Tyler Cameron View all posts by

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