The Daedalus Project

by Rachel Smith, NMC: The New Media Consortium


Research into educational gaming is leading to a deeper understanding of topics like gaming and engagement theory, the effect of using games in practice, and the structure of cooperation in gameplay. In the 2006 Horizon Report, the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative describe the movement this way:”The past year has seen a subtle shift in the way educational gaming is perceived in higher education. A number of interesting examples have shown anecdotally that games can be very effective tools for learning. As a result, there is an increasing interest among scholars in researching the subject, not only to quantify the actual effect of using games to teach, but also to define the essence of gaming itself in order to better apply its principles to education. Educational gaming is no longer a fringe activity pursued only by extreme technophiles—it is emerging as a discipline unto itself, multifaceted and rich.”

One example of this research is the Daedalus Project, an ongoing study of Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) players. MMORPGs, or MMOs, are a video game genre that allow thousands of people to interact, compete, and collaborate in an online virtual environment. Over the past 6 years, more than 40,000 MMORPG players have participated in the project by completing surveys about their playing style, habits, and preferences. Various topics have been examined, from gender-related motivation factors to the effect of running an in-game guild on one’s real life experiences. The results of the research are available as reports sorted by topic.