There have been many studies done on gaming to try and prove how bad it is for you, so it's nice to see that Microsoft is heading up a study to see if gaming can actually inspire learning. The study is aimed at finding out if playing video games like World of Warcraft can actually encourage learning. A previous study by the University of Wisconsin, which used World of Warcraft in their study, yielded positive results as it showed that playing WoW actually encouraged scientific thinking.
Microsoft has put forth $1.5 million dollars in a joint venture with New York University and a number of other colleges to form The Games and Learning Institute. The goal of this little business venture is to find out if video games can draw students into science and math and maybe be used as a learning tool.
It's easy to see how a game like World of Warcraft can be used as a learning tool. Their are basic aspects of business and budgeting players work with in the game world every day that might have some practical applications in the real world. Through the auction house players learn how to work the market and even juggle a budget. If only it were so easy in the real world.