How can we boost student engagement? What’s more, how can we use a medium that is sure to resonate with students in the modern classroom? These are the questions that got our LIVE Lab team at Texas A&M University not only thinking about innovation, but acting on it.
The LIVE Lab (Learning Interactive Visual Experiences) is a research facility at Texas A&M University College Station that develops interactive learning experiences. Established in the summer of 2014 by a few students and our director, André Thomas, our team set out to incorporate game methodologies with college-level materials, also known as game-based learning. Given Thomas’ background as the former head of graphics at EA Sports and a graphics creator for major motion pictures, he knew these couldn’t just be any games; they had to merge commercial production quality and educational rigor.
Approached by an art history instructor here at Texas A&M, we tackled our first game-based learning challenge. In just two semesters the instructor had to cover 5,000 years of human art history on a global scale, which is like trying to see Europe in a speed train in a week. Game-based learning presented an ideal way to provide more context via a medium familiar to so many students. The result was the immersive art history game ARTé: Mecenas. In 2015, Thomas licensed the IP of ARTé: Mecenas to game-based learning company Triseum, a spin-off from the LIVE Lab.
Soon we started taking on new projects and more staff to design, research, and test new interactive approaches to highly engaged learning. Today, the LIVE Lab has grown to include five different teams, all critical to a successful game development process and partnership.