Microsoft To Research Education-Gaming Link

It's a well known fact that puzzle games and other brain training exercises actually enhance mental stimulation, but what about titles such as Crysis and Gears of War? Microsoft, of all companies, is looking to find a definitive answer to that by sinking $1.5 million into a research initiative that will, at its core, explore the educational link to video games. Many gamers have confessed that even first person shooters have sharpened their reaction time and taught them to think in more quantitative ways, and while it's obviously possible to go overboard and allow games to become a distraction, Microsoft thinks there could be a balance where it's actually beneficial.

According to John Nordlinger, head of gaming research for Microsoft: "We want to figure out what's compelling about the games. If we can find out how to make the games fun and not make them so violent, that would be ideal." The $1.5 million is going to start The Games for Learning Institute, which will be a joint venture with New York University along with numerous other colleges and institutions. The goal, we're told, is to "see whether video games — and not just software specifically designed to be educational — can draw students into math, science and technology-based programs."

In order to test that hypothesis, Microsoft has already begun lining up middle school students to study. Many others who are interested in finding an answer to this question suggest that having Microsoft's name behind it will add a lot of credibility, and besides, if there really can be educational benefits to gaming, shouldn't educators be informed? We're sure it'd make their jobs a lot easier if they could assign 30 minutes of gaming for homework versus a two-page summary on the evolution of a rectangle.