The online game about homelessness called SPENT, made by McKinney to raise awareness for pro bono client Urban Ministries of Durham, has been played by more than 3.75 million people in 196 countries. Dana Ruggiero, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University in the U.K. and Purdue Ph.D. candidate, was one of the earlier players and decided to use the game for her dissertation study.
She questioned 5,139 students from 200 classrooms across four states to learn that hose who played SPENT had a better attitude toward the homeless both immediately after the game and three weeks later. Equally important, their affective learning (motivation and engagement with the subject) was higher after playing the game and sustained over three weeks. The results of a larger study (more than 12,000 students from 25 states) will be a separate publication.