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Institute of Play records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 119.6926
The Institute of Play records contain planning materials, notes, reports, marketing materials, curriculum design packs, videos of game-like learning, game information, and other documentation relating to Quest to Learn and the Institute of Play. Additional scope and content information can be found in the Contents List section of this finding aid.

The Institute of Play records have been arranged into two series. The physical materials are housed in one archival document box; digital materials are accessible on-site at The Strong.


  • 2007 - 2022



The materials in this collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donors have not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, they have given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


0.3 Linear Feet (1 archival document box)

1 Gigabytes (Digital) : Accessible on-site at The Strong.


This collection contains both physical and digital information about the Institute of Play and its associated Quest to Learn project. The materials are dated between 2007 and 2022.

Historical Note

Founded by a group of game designers and educators in 2007, the Institute of Play created learning experiences based on the principles of game design. They sought to transform education through play, ultimately developing a model school in New York City that would use “game-like learning” to empower and engage students.

Through the support from the MacArthur Foundation in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools, The New School, and the Pearson Foundation, Quest to Learn opened in fall 2009. The curriculum integrated digital and analog games into “domains,” focusing on applied knowledge and conceptual thinking. Domains included The Way Things Work (math and science); Codeworlds (integrated English language arts, math, and computer programming); Being, Space, and Place (social studies and English language arts); Wellness (physical education, socioemotional learning, and health); and Sports for the Mind (game design and media arts). Quest to Learn, which began with one sixth grade class in 2009, supported critical thinking skills, media literacy, and technology to educate students for success in the 21st century. By 2015, Quest to Learn in Manhattan had encompassed grades 6 through 12 to become a fully functioning combined middle and high school, after adding a new grade level each year.

Among the Institute of Play’s other major accomplishments were the co-development of the Gamestar Mechanic (a game which teaches students how to build games) and a partnership with Nintendo to introduce Nintendo Labo-themed curriculum to teach STEAM principles to students. After more than a decade of supporting game-based learning initiatives, the Institute of Play closed in 2019, citing difficulty in securing sustainable funding. During its existence, the Institute of Play directly worked with more than 1,500 teachers and 50 educational institutions across the country. (As of 2022, Quest to Learn remains in operation.)

System of Arrangement

Series I: Institute of Play information, 2007-2022 and n.d.

Series II: Quest to Learn, 2009-2019 and n.d.

Custodial History

The Institute of Play records were donated to The Strong in January 2020 as a gift of the Institute of Play. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 119.6926 and were received from Katie Salen Tekinbaş, along with several games and objects related to the Institute of Play.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, October 2022


Finding Aid to the Institute of Play Records, 2007-2022
Julia Novakovic
17 October 2022
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)