Microsoft Makes a Splash at the Georgia Aquarium With National Essay Contest

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 1, 2006 — Microsoft® Game Studios is teaming up with the Georgia Aquarium to introduce an educational initiative that will help excite and inform students about the complexity of and caring for marine life. Microsoft Corp., the Georgia Aquarium and AirTran Airways today announced a national essay contest on marine conservation and the importance of preserving aquatic life.

In conjunction with the recent launch of “Zoo Tycoon 2®: Marine Mania®,” the newest addition to the award-winning “Zoo Tycoon” franchise, and the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Georgia Aquarium, the essay competition encourages students in grades six through eight to submit a 250- to 500-word essay focusing on why conservation of marine animals and the ocean is important.

The grand prize winner receives a trip for four to Atlanta and a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium, where the winner and his or her family can observe whale sharks and African black-footed penguins in their natural habitats from exclusive views of the exhibits. They can also speak directly with staff biologists to learn more about how to take care of the marine animals. Runners-up receive copies of “Zoo Tycoon 2” and all franchise expansion packs, including “Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania.” Additional contest details will be available at the Zoo Tycoon Web site at

“Our research has shown that students choose aquariums as their top choice for field-trip destinations. They’re the best places to both engage with marine life up close and form an understanding of the world’s oceans,” said Craig Davison, director of global games marketing in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “We feel privileged to help the Georgia Aquarium with its mission of connecting people with aquatic animals and teaching today’s students about important issues like marine preservation and conservation.”

Microsoft Game Studios also sponsored a visit to the Georgia Aquarium today for 250 students from Atlanta-area schools. Visiting the largest aquarium in the world, students can observe more than 100,000 animals from 500 species, and discover how to best take care of them by playing “Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania” at any of numerous kiosks available throughout the aquarium.

Developed by Blue Fang Games LLC, “Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania” continues the unique legacy of the “Zoo Tycoon” franchise of providing gameplay that is both fun and educational, while teaching aspiring zookeepers and gamers of all ages about the animal kingdom and how to ensure animal happiness, guest satisfaction and profitability.

Today’s event marks the initiation of an educational partnership between Microsoft Game Studios and the Georgia Aquarium, including future plans for using the “Zoo Tycoon” franchise as an educational tool within the aquarium’s Learning Loop, a level of the aquarium dedicated to educational programs.

“Microsoft has been a great corporate partner of the aquarium,” said Jeff Swanagan, executive director of the Georgia Aquarium. “The ‘Zoo Tycoon’ games are known for their realistic and educational presentation, and we recognized that they would be a perfect fit for teaming up to help educate students and promote the importance of marine conservation.”

About the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 23, 2005, as the world’s largest aquarium. The Aquarium is a $250 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium, which has welcomed more than three million visitors in nine months, is overseen by a non-profit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors’ experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is committed to continually working to provide the best guest experience. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium

to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world’s aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action. For additional information on the Georgia Aquarium, visit

About AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways, a Fortune 1000 company and one of America’s largest low-fare airlines with 8,000 friendly, professional Crew Members, operates nearly 700 daily flights to 52 destinations. The airline’s hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where it is the second largest carrier. AirTran Airways’ aircraft features the fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 and 717-200 to create America’s youngest all-Boeing fleet. The airline is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Tropical Diver exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. It is also the first carrier to install XM Satellite Radio on a commercial aircraft and the only airline with Business Class and XM Satellite Radio on every flight. Convenient shipping options are available through AirTran Airways’ cargo services. For reservations or more information, visit

About “Zoo Tycoon”

“Zoo Tycoon” has been one of the top-selling “Tycoon” game titles since its launch in 2001. Simple to play yet challenging to master, “Zoo Tycoon” offers engaging gameplay for animal lovers and simulation game fans of all ages. The captivating imagery, clever gameplay and interactive tutorials in the vibrant and appealing “Zoo Tycoon” make it easy to play right out of the box. “Zoo Tycoon” has something for everyone, stimulating creativity and imagination as players respond to the needs of the animals and guests. Additional information is available at

About Blue Fang Games

Blue Fang Games is an independent game developer dedicated to creating compelling, emotionally engaging games focused on the animal kingdom that set the benchmark for broad-based family entertainment. Blue Fang’s “Zoo Tycoon” franchise, published by Microsoft Game Studios, has established itself as one of the most popular PC gaming franchises and has sold more than five million units worldwide. Founded in 1998, Blue Fang Games is located in Waltham, Mass. For more information, visit Blue Fang Games on the Web at

About Microsoft Game Studios

Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Xbox® and Xbox 360™ video game systems, the Windows® operating system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse games for Windows (, including such franchises as “Age of Empires®,” “Flight Simulator” and “Zoo Tycoon”; Xbox and Xbox 360 (, including such games as the upcoming “Gears of War” and franchises such as “Halo®,” “Fable®,” “Project Gotham Racing®” and “Forza Motorsport™”; and MSN® Games (, the official games channel for the MSN network and home to such hits as “Bejeweled” and “Hexic®.”

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers, and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at

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