Games and Learning? Getting Serious!

Well it has finally happened ; )

As part of IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook 2.0, I have been working for about a year on looking at the application of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) to learning. I have written a lot about this in earlier posts on this blog, but today I can finally point you to the research itself.

This research, done in conjunction with Byron Reeves (Stanford), Tom Malone (MIT), Seriosity, and Eric Lesser and Mike DeMarco from IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV), was announced at the MIT and IBM Virtual Worlds: Where Business, Technology and Society Converge conference.

Virtual World News was kind enough to liveblog the event so if you were unable to attend, you can see what was said. I’d draw your attention to the panel discussion led by Mitch Kapor where Tom Malone goes into some of the findings from the research. It can be found here.

The press was there too, Business week gave us a nice plug in the print magazine (see below) and there is even more about it in the online version that you can read here.

To get a succinct overview of the research you can listen to an 8 minute podcast here.

The first piece of work looked at gamers in their natural habitat. We used the Sloan Leadership Model to examine leader behavior in games. You can find the write up from that work here.

The second piece of work then took the findings from Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders and validated the findings via survey research with 214 IBMers who are both experienced leaders and guild leaders. You can find this write up here.

It is a privilege to work for a company that had the vision to spend the time studying this space. It was an honor to work such fantastic folks on this research. We sincerely hope that this work helps open the aperture about the possibilities at the intersection of Virtual Worlds and Learning.

Leave a comment


  1. Tony, excellent, excellent work! I’m very encouraged by these reports and by the names behind them. I agree 100% with the perspective you take: virtual worlds may just foreshadow new ways of working for enterprises. Much work still to be done here. I hope to be able to contribute something to the discussion in the (near) future based on my own work.

  2. Interesting topic and listened with interest to the podcast, but this podcast raised a few questions.

    The shift towards more freedom in business, more freedom in organizing the personal workload is discussed in the podcast. I am all for that, but I just wonder if this shift is not a mirage for the worker? If the choices that can be made are filtered choices/possibilities, then where is the freedom in this?
    Is there an opening in this new organisation of workchoices for individual choices that are not mentioned in the game/business options?

    I work at an educational institution focussing on student-centered education (most of them are post-grad students), but to ensure that the students are really in the center of education, we always build on input they give (examples, pictures, cases and we always provide an extra facility to build new ways of education amongst themselves. Just to make sure that the collective intelligence of the post-grad students gets feeded into the organic, educational system.

    Could you tell me if this is also incorporated in the business model with workers organising their own work load?

  3. Tony,

    Great stuff, if you have a chance, I’d like to speak with you about our next project. Don’t have your current email.

    Karl Kapp

  4. Hi

    As a keen online gamer I like the way you make your point keep up the good work

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