One of the more interesting projects that we had a chance to check out at last years inaugural One Spark was Immersed Games. The company is in the process of building a huge educational MMORPG. Think World of Warcraft or Ultima Online for education. It sounds a bit strange at first, but when you really think about it, an educational MMORPG really makes a lot of sense. Immersed Games CEO Lindsey Tropf shares her eureka moment on the company’s website:
I realized one day while playing World of Warcraft that I had learned so much, without trying, through the act of play. I knew thousands of items, what “of the Eagle” meant and who needed to use it, boss strategies and approaches. I knew so much, but not much of it really mattered outside of the game world. That’s when I knew what a powerful medium games can be for learning, especially if the same mechanics were used, but with content that mattered outside of the game world.1
It makes sense. Children are naturally drawn to these sorts of games. If they can create the same sort of following and user base as World of Warcraft, Immersed Games could drastically alter educational gaming. The company made a note of students’ and parents/teachers responses to the current crop of educational games:
Educational games have gotten a bad reputation as nothing more than “chocolate-covered broccoli” because of the common approach of taking rote practice and just making it look more interesting – for example, having to answer a math problem to shoot a zombie. Most educational games are also not explicitly linked to educational standards, making it difficult for educators to figure out which games they may be able to implement in their classrooms. We are taking a different approach by having an active, constructive learning process that involves problem solving – for example, by examining the properties of a plant to determine if it is invasive in an area, and then transplanting it if needed. We are also directly linking each quest to an educational standard.2
Immersed Games is certainly near the top of our One Spark 2014 list of things to see. Check out all of our 2014 One Spark coverage.