This seems to have started from one of my colleagues in Microsoft Research wanting to improve his language skills through the medium of role-playing games.  It worked but it seems that not many people understand why.

So, Microsoft is now co-funding an initiative with a number of universities to find scientific evidence supporting the use of gaming as a valid educational tool. For more information take a look here.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/382180_msftvideogame08.html