Microsoft Research Connections with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is working on a project titled "Just Press Play" that explores the potential to weave gameplay in to academia and social activities.
"Each game participant receives trading cards equipped with secret codes and a radio-frequency identification (RFID) keychain that they can swipe to "check-in" at permanent and temporary locations. The cards and the keychain are just the first two tools that the students must learn to use in order to progress through the various aspects of the game. The game is based around challenges that occur both online and in the real world. 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."
The "Just Press Play" 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. 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."