Versace, Your Way! RIT Team Designs Fashionable Business Game

StoreWorld provides online entertainment designed to operate on Facebook

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RIT Art Team

StoreWorld is a place where fashion means business. This new online retail game, designed to operate on Facebook, is being tested and developed by RIT faculty and students.

“It is exciting to see the different colleges and students uniquely collaborating on the development of this project. It is truly a university-wide effort.”

—Donald Truesdale, RIT trustee and alumnus

Entrepreneurs know there are challenges and excitement in starting a retail business, but sometimes they need some outside help. At least that’s the case with students at Rochester Institute of Technology who are creating a game known by the code name of “StoreWorld.”

StoreWorld is an online retail game designed to operate on the Facebook platform—where students use skills learned in business, design, art and programming, with options to augment these technologies with reality accessories and mobile equipment. A multidisciplinary effort, the game was developed by RIT faculty and students from the E. Philip Saunders College of Business, the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

According to RIT economics professor Steven Gold, the game is “augmented reality-driven” and should enjoy equal success to Facebook’s FarmVille and It Girl. “The premise is that each player has inherited a men’s and women’s clothing and accessories store from their parents and they have to learn how to advertise, operate, manage and compete against other retail shops and their owners. They get to name their store, decorate it, pick out and purchase inventory, and run the daily operations. They can meet other retail owners in the Plaza to discuss sales and business.”

Win or lose, virtual entrepreneurs will come away with fashion sense and business acumen—without losing a penny of their own money.

The game was quite popular at the 2011 Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival held at RIT in May and won a sponsor prize from Hewlett Packard. “Games like this cost $6 million to $9 million to produce by private companies, so the competition is fierce,” Gold explains. “If HP gave us an endorsement, it was because the game was creative enough and had the promise to make an impact in commercialization.”

Donald Truesdale, RIT trustee, alumnus (business administration ’87) and partner at Goldman Sachs, has offered his support in helping the enterprise come to fruition. He believes his alma mater is on the cutting edge of a new developing technology that will work across multiple platforms.

“I believe RIT should be on the forefront of using technology to advance the quality of education of all of its students,” Truesdale says. “StoreWorld is an important attempt to create a teaching tool which combines advances in computer gaming technology with entrepreneurial instruction to help students learn how to create, manage and run a business.

“If we are successful, the game and learning process will become fun and by its nature will encourage student usage, which in turn should create higher levels of learning.”

Saunders College Dean Ashok Rao says Truesdale has been a strong supporter of cross-disciplinary education. “Don has encouraged students from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) disciplines to pursue careers in business, and he and his wife, Christina, offer a scholarship for students to minor in entrepreneurship. This latest gift supports the development of a game leveraging the social network features of Facebook. The aim is to introduce engineering, science and design students across the university to the excitement of business.”

Note: One of nine colleges at RIT, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB International) and enrolls more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students. The Saunders College and its entrepreneurial Venture Creations Incubator work in partnership with RIT’s Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to integrate business education with RIT’s world leading technical and creative programs.