Just Press Play – Microsoft and Rochester Institute of Technology

Interesting news from our Microsoft Research Connections (MSRC) team on a project with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Just Press Play explores the potential to weave gameplay in to academia and social activities.

Game participants receive trading cards and an RFID badge to swipe at locations as part of a series of social challenges. These challenges aim to encourage students to get out of their comfort zones and involved in all aspects of school. As students complete challenges, they gain access to web pages and videos that tell the story of an alternate history of RIT – a story that describes a battle fought between two rival factions: The Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institute. To succeed on their academic journey, students must understand both factions, representing the creative and technical sides of RIT. The institute blends the technology and humanities disciplines, focusing not only on STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math — but also STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

This project is also the culmination of three years of collaboration with RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media as part of our Games for Learning Institute. The program officially launched on October 13th and was streamed live to project partners at the University of Wisconsin, Teachers College at Columbia, and the New York Law School. Although it will will initially be available exclusively to students enrolled at RIT, these partners are assessing the effectiveness of the program and also exploring legal issues related to gameful education.

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The ultimate goal of is to support the development of a unified game layer for education, one that can unify gameful experiences across schools and technologies. Donald Brinkman, Research Program Manager for Games for Learning at MSRC believes this platform will drive better educational outcomes as well as enable entirely new types of educational research.