Why Play?

We are in the midst of a media revolution that has digital games overtaking television as the preferred medium of choice for teens' leisure time activity. Games hold great but unrealized promise for advancing learning and enhancing education due to the interactivity and learning inherent in digital games, how much time kids spend playing games, and how engaged they are when they play.

We are early in this process. Researchers, educators, and game designers are working together to invent new forms of learning games, and to understand how those games effect learning.

Not all learners are likely to benefit equally from a learning game. Life Preservers was created to accommodate diverse play styles. Early research suggests that boys tend to rush to beat the game, while girls exhibit more exploration behavior. Is one strategy better for learning than the other? Are these expected gender differences in play style real? How much learning does occur in a game?

Michigan State University has worked with science teachers, to have their students play Life Preservers and complete online surveys. The study is advancing what we know about learning from games. Results will be widely shared at conferences and web sites, and will influence future learning game design.

Now that data collection is over, the game is being made available to the public. We hope you and your students enjoy the game and learn from it.