Research Highlights / Full Story

The game is a multidisciplinary effort 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.

StoreWorld is based on the success of Facebook's FarmVille and It Girl, but with an entrepreneurial twist: players own a clothing store and must learn how to advertise, operate, manage, and compete against other mall stores and their owners.

According to Steven Gold, economics professor in the Saunders College, similar games cost $6 to $9 million to produce by private companies, so the competition is fierce.

"We devised the game to use in the classroom and it has all the elements of RIT's introductory business course," Gold adds. "It's also a potential recruiting tool for high school students interested in coming to RIT."

Three years in the making, approximately 30 student artists and programmers worked side by side in developing of the RIT-funded project.

"Artists developed the male and female avatar prototypes—drawing each frame like you would a cartoon; they also created the store, plaza, and clothing designs," explains David Schwartz, associate professor in the School of Interactive Games and Media in the Golisano College. "And our student programmers added detailed directions to the basic recipe—testing and debugging until everything moved properly."

According to Matthew Critelli, producer of the project and a fourth-year student in game design and development, programmers developed a database of 100,000 lines of code in 400 different classes for StoreWorld.

Fair warning: Don't be fooled by the fun aspect of the game.

"Mistakes in marketing, inventory, and budgeting can be costly," Gold says. "If you don't know what you are doing, you will be out of business. The good part about StoreWorld is you aren't losing a penny of your own money."