How Beyond Xbox: Field Trips is Teaching Valuable Life Skills via Game Pass Favorites

Xbox has teamed up with Ukie’s Digital Schoolhouse to launch Beyond Xbox: Field Trips, a series of interactive learning experiences, available on Spotify, to help young people learn through play.

These experiences are set to be delivered as a series of podcasts, featuring seven Xbox Game Pass titles. Each audio journey will focus on a specific game, and the skills that are encouraged and honed while playing. The Field Trips aim to help young people sharpen thought processes, learn collaborative skills, and experience a sense of accomplishment in an immersive environment.

Xbox Wire had the opportunity to sit down with Ollie Bray, co-author of the European Games in Schools Handbook, who helped shape this project. With Bray, we found out how this the podcasts came to be, and what makes Xbox’s catalogue the perfect selection for skills-based learning.

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Bray has a background in teaching, and, like many academics, found himself frustrated by more traditional methods to get young people involved with classroom activities. The original thought process of how games can assist with this hurdle came from Sim City, which encourages its players to think about urban planning in an interesting way.

“The traditional ways that we do things are often really dull, but games and simulations offer personalised learning experiences,” Bray says. “When we’re thinking about ‘soft skills’, these game environments are a really good example of how to develop those.”

Beyond Xbox: Field Trips has a couple of main goals in mind, according to Bray. One is to showcase video games as tools that can generate powerful learning opportunities.

The other is to demonstrate how games do not have to have been made specifically for educational purposes to have educational benefits.

We had the chance to listen to the Sea of Thieves episode of Beyond Xbox: Field Trips ahead of its release, which focuses on encouraging teamwork and delegation – something that is already integral to Sea of Thieves’ gameplay.

“There are aspects of the game where young people are picking up maps, which links to geography, how we learn about latitude and longitude, compass directions, map orientation, all sorts of skills,” Bray says.

“It’s the kind of hard learning you’d expect to get in a geography classroom, which is often reinforced by a textbook or video, but in this case, we’re reinforcing it through interactive gameplay, which gives young people motivation.”

On the campaign, Shahneila Saeed, Director of Digital Schoolhouse and Head of Education at Ukie added, “we’re very excited to be supporting such an original and unique program, using games to develop the skills of young people. I can’t wait to see how these audio learning journeys are implemented in our Digital Schoolhouse network over the coming months, and the impact that they will have.”

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Each audio learning journey is available on Spotify, and prompts players to take part in a number of in-game tasks in order to develop important soft skills. All seven games are available via Xbox Game Pass, and can be seen below alongside the skills they encourage:

  • Grounded – Problem Solving & Analytical Thinking
  • Sea of Thieves – Teamwork and Delegation
  • Minecraft – Creativity and Innovation
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator – Focus and Diligence
  • PowerWash Simulator – Motivation and Prioritisation
  • Age of Empires IV – Strategy and Decision making
  • Cities: Skylines – Planning and Adaptability

Choosing Game Pass titles was another important element of Beyond Xbox: Field Trips. Bray shares that all of these games can be accessed with just one Game Pass membership.

“We wanted to include a number of different genres of game to be able to cater for different interests,” Bray explains. “You’ll find your classic sandbox game in there, Minecraft; survival elements from Grounded; and more surprising titles such as Powerwash Simulator, which is a difficult game to explain, but is hugely therapeutic to play.”

A final note that Bray touches on is how play is highly encouraged during early development, and again later in adult life, but there’s a middle point where leaning on resources like video games is underutilized. Bray adds, “this makes me wonder if we can rethink the approach to the middle part a little – games are a highly engaging learning environment.”

Beyond Xbox: Field Trips are now available via Spotify for players in the UK and Mexico. They can also be accessed as in more accessible formats as visual guides on to cater to different learning styles.