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Electronic Arts, ESA, and the Institute of Play found new education-focused game lab
Electronic Arts, ESA, and the Institute of Play found new education-focused game lab
June 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

June 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Serious, Business/Marketing

In an effort to promote video games as a viable tool for education in schools, the Institute of Play has partnered with Electronic Arts and the Entertainment Software Association to establish a new game lab focused exclusively on making games for students across the United States.

Known as Glass Lab, the new non-profit studio has received $10.3 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and is located alongside EA's headquarters in Redwood City, California.

Developers at the lab both will create new games and modify existing titles to help students learn essential skills deemed critical by state school districts. By teaching students about spatial reasoning, systems thinking, and other related skills, EA, the ESA, and the Institute of Play hope the Glass Lab will help U.S. students prepare for higher education and their eventual careers.

In essence, the lab's goals are not unlike Valve's recently announced classroom initiative, which uses a modified version of the company's Portal games to help students learn about problem solving.

When the Glass Lab completes its education-focused projects, it plans to make the titles available to students and school districts at little to no cost.

For more information, visit the Institute of Play's official website.

[Update: This article has been updated to note that the $10.3 million grant went to the lab itself, and not EA or the ESA. Gamasutra regrets the error in the original story.]

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William Johnson
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I think I might be a hypocrite, because I can only see the negative side of this story. Essentially, EA gets a $10 million grant to advertise their video games to youth. I felt a little bit that way with Valve's Teach with Portals, but to be fair to Valve they didn't get a multi million dollar grant from a nonprofit, so I can give them a little leeway.

I know I hold EA to different standards, because I hate them. But maybe my hatred of EA is clouding my better judgement. Maybe my knee jerk reaction of thinking this is a bad thing isn't right.

But screw it. I'm cynical and dislike EA. Why did they need a $10 million grant? Last time I checked they were in the fortune 500. Billion dollar companies can't even afford their own charity work now? It just feels so disingenuous.

Tom Curtis
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Hey William,

Unfortunately, the original story had it wrong. As noted above, the grant went directly to the Glass Lab instead of EA or the ESA. Hopefully that clears things up a bit.

Eric Geer
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I never thought I would see EA and non-profit in the same sentence.

John Flush
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So what is EA's involvement in this, other than being located next to Glass Lab. What does 'Partnering' mean for this relationship? Does it mean they smack an EA logo on whatever Glass Lab's produces? or is EA actually giving them money? or is it the EA games they are modifying to be teaching opportunities? I'm trying to think of an EA game they produce these days that is acceptable for teaching kids with...

Michael John
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John I'll be running this and can answer your questions in detail offline if you want ( The short answer is that EA is providing in-kind services of office space, furniture etc. (in a separately keyed isolated space) but more importantly yes, EA games. Is Battlefield a good choice? Probably not. But there are definitely games in the EA catalog that are interesting for this purpose.

I'd add that as an independent entity, Glass is by no means restricted to EA properties, and any other publishers and/or developers are invited to contribute in similar fashion over the course of the grant.

Audra Congress
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I interned at an organization who had a somewhat similar focus. I personally things its fabulous that this partnership is putting a educational initiative into play. While a few titles break the mold, the hole in the educational games sector desperately needs to be filled with quality content. I am curious, is the lab up and running or is it still in the planning phase?