Bringing games into education
Bringing games into education
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 03 July 2011

Microsoft has launched a program designed to build the foundations for a "unified game layer for education" Its first  official project, Just Press Play, will roll out at Rochester Institute of Technology this fall.

The Just Press Play project being undertaken by a team of faculty and students at Rochester Institute of Technology sets out to apply game design principles to the undergraduate student experience. It aims to produce a series of steps that encourage student development through achievements and formative feedback in a game scenario.



Part of its motivation is a UCLA Higher Education Research Institute study which revealed that the emotional health of first-year college students dropped to record lows in 2010, based on the students’ self-evaluations and suggested that students of the digital age are more likely to drop out of college when they see little correlation between material covered in class and its application to a career.

“We want to create a platform that deeply integrates with the school’s core student information systems, in order to create gameful experiences for students that pervade their digital and analog lives,” says Andrew Phelps, professor and founding director of RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media.

The achievement-based game system will encourage students to think of the obstacles in their path as part of a narrative of their educational development. The game will be designed to help “student heroes” determine what tools they need in order to successfully navigate obstacles, described as “academic dragons.”

According to Phelps:

“The Just Press Play experiment is an important first step in bringing gameful experiences to education, but it is only the beginning. This will provide insights into the worlds of students and educators, enable large-scale longitudinal studies and promote intrinsic motivation among students.”

Phelps is also member of the Games for Learning Institute, an organization funded by Microsoft Research and Motorola, that is conducting research into how games can be used to assist learning and whose mission is to study and create games that are fun, educational and effective. Based at New York University, the institute brings together 14 game designers, computer scientists, and education researchers from 9 partner institutions and is another part of Microsoft Research’s long-standing commitment to games for learning.


More information:

Microsoft Research Connections Blog

Just Press Play website

Just Press Play developer blog

Microsoft Research video in which Elizabeth Lawley & Andrew Phelps (RIT) introduce project  (76 minutes)

Games for Learning Institute


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