Friday, December 14, 2007

New Lab Develops Computer Games for Social Change -

New Lab Develops Computer Games for Social Change -

December 12, 2007

New Lab Develops Computer Games for Social Change

Computer games can make the world a better place, and Parsons The New School for Design and the MacArthur Foundation are betting $450,000 on that proposition. The institution, with the non-profit organization Games for Change, just got a grant in that amount from the philanthropy to start a public-interest game design and research laboratory for interactive media.

The facility, to be called PETlab, will work with Microsoft’s Xbox development platform and—the youth-oriented network’s online activist community—to develop learning tools and digital games that explore social issues.

Gaming as an education tool is attracting attention from a number of higher education institutions, including Boston College, Columbia University, and Amherst College, which are supporting an online educational game environment called Immersive Education, The Chronicle reported earlier this week.

PETLab will focus on new games and simulations to encourage learning and investigation into social and global issues, as well as educational assessment, according to Colleen Macklin, Parsons chair of communication design and technology and director of the lab.

Among the projects: Xbox on Campus, which uses the Microsoft game platform to develop games relating to social issues. It will be made available as open source material for other universities to adopt and expand.—Josh Fischman