Game teaches business concepts

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Players in StoreWorld own a clothing and accessories store like the one above. They have to learn how to advertise, operate, manage and compete against other retail shops.

David Schwartz purchased displays, clothing and décor and created his virtual store.

Soon customers began shopping. On this particular day, jeans were a big seller and Schwartz, an associate professor of interactive games and media, couldn’t help but get a little excited when the stylish avatars bought his products.

Welcome to StoreWorld, an online retail game on Facebook that is designed to teach students the fundamentals of running a business.

The multi-disciplinary project involves students from the E. Philip Saunders College of Business, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

“It is intended to introduce people to the importance of business and the excitement of business,” says Ashok Rao, Saunders College dean.

The premise is that a player owns a clothing and accessories store and has to learn how to advertise, operate, manage and compete against other retail shops and their owners.

The game has built-in players with different fashion tastes. Store owners have to figure out what these characters, as well as other store owners, want to buy and how much they’ll pay for the product. Players also can work in other people’s stores and there’s a plaza where owners can show off products to friends.

Players learn about advertising, price, location, product selection, customer service and the general costs of doing business.

CIAS students designed all of the artwork, including the avatars, their outfits and the accessories. Business students are working on the business concepts, which will include mini-games to teach players about specific business principles. Golisano College students are doing the programming.

The goal is to have a workable game for the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival May 5 and to use it in introductory business classes next fall, Rao says. Schwartz, who works with the students as the game’s producer, says the game could also be used as a recruitment tool for high school students.

“Eventually I want people to use it on their cell phones and play the game across campus and beyond campus,” says Rao, adding that players will be able to invite friends to the game. “It’s an interesting and exciting educational experience.”