Microsoft Pledges $1.5M for Games Research

Microsoft will participate in a new alliance of academic institutions and researchers called the Games for Learning Institute, aiming to promote the study and use of games as a way to educate students in math and science. Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, announced the G4LI project during a speech at New York University.

NEW YORK-Microsoft announced the formation of a gaming research alliance to promote the use of games as learning tools for students, particularly for learning math and science among middle school students.

Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, announced the first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional gaming research alliance during a speech to New York University faculty and students here.

Mundie said the G4LI (Games for Learning Institute) is a joint research endeavor of Microsoft Research, New York University and a consortium of universities, including Columbia University, CUNY (City University of New York), Dartmouth College, Parsons, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Teachers College. According to a Microsoft news release, "The G4LI will identify which qualities of computer games engage students and develop relevant, personalized teaching strategies that can be applied to the learning process."

"Technology has the potential to help reinvent the education process and excite and inspire young learners to embrace science, math and technology," Mundie said. "The Games for Learning Institute is a great example of how technology can change how students learn, making it far more natural and intuitive."

Microsoft has invested before in projects aimed at reaching young people and students, such as the Popfly Game Creator. According to Microsoft:

"Through its Gaming Initiative, since 2004 Microsoft Research has invested more than $3 million in gaming kits, assessment studies, academic funding and an academic sponsored event, the Academic Games and Computer Science Game Cruise. Last year, six academic researchers received funding and had access to game-related resources available from Microsoft including Visual Studio, XNA Game Studio and Microsoft "Flight Simulator" ESP. The G4LI will build on these efforts to help improve middle-school math and science skills."

Microsoft also said:

"Microsoft Research is providing $1.5 million to the Institute. NYU and its consortium of partners are matching Microsoft's investment, for a combined $3 million. Funding covers the first three years of the G4LI's research, which will focus on evaluating computer games as potential learning tools for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at the middle-school years (grades 6-8). The institute will work with a range of student populations, yet focus on underrepresented middle-school students, such as girls and minorities."

"Middle school is a critical stage for students, a time when many are introduced to advanced math and science concepts," said Ken Perlin, professor of computer science in NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and director of the Media Research Laboratory at NYU. Perlin will co-direct the G4LI, to be located at NYU. "Many students become discouraged or uninterested and pour their time at home into gaming. Ironically, we think gaming is our starting point to draw them into math, science and technology-based programs."