For years now I have been a (barely functioning) member of the Learning Games Initiative, a research-oriented group based in Tucson. I teach a unit about games to all of my upper-division classes (or else I work in a lesson or two on games, as I used Red Dead Redemption in my Native American lit and Environmental Justice to look at the context of Native Americans in contemporary views of the West as a genre).
Still, I could never find a means of bringing the intensity with which I used to play games like WoW, Starcraft, and Diablo to education. The complete immersion that gamers take as a matter of course (they’ll quickly quit games that *don’t* immerse them) seems unavailable to academia. In my opinion, the desire to bring this sort of game to the classroom has been a fatal flaw of academic gamers – I’ve seen endless presentations on how to make students play games like WoW in order to teach them something about economics, and the results are usually ugly.
Of course, new developers bring in new games, and I’ve looked at a couple this summer. The first, The Curfew, I asked my thirteen year old daughter to play, and she had interesting things to say about it, although she might have been a bit young for the heaviest of its political content.