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Scalar Learning Podcast

210 EpisodesProduced by Huzefa KapadiaWebsite

Welcome to Scalar Learning!


EP 148: Variant – A 3D Video Game to Teach Calculus

The executives at Electronic Arts said it would never work. These gaming experts posited that kids would only want video games with exciting plot lines built around battles, conflict, and domination. Game players interested in fantasy worlds yearned for quests of glory littered with treasures and magical potions. Who in their right mind would choose to purchase a video game that taught… calculus? Although Andre Thomas still thought he could make a game to teach calculus in an engaging and effective way, he quickly recognized that the major video game manufacturers would never play ball. So, like most gutsy entrepreneurs with a vision, he decided to build it himself.

While working as the Director of the LIVE Lab at Texas A&M University, Andre Thomas founded Triseum, a game development company aimed at building education video games. Andre is the perfect candidate to tackle the arduous task of building an educational video game as he is no newbie in the entertainment industry. He has in depth experience across the board, possessing over 20 years in CGI production. Additionally, “he has worked around the [globe] on legendary video games, live action feature films and gripping commercials. He served as Head of Graphics for EA Sports Football and is also credited with creating graphics for such notable films as Men in Black, Con Air, Independence Day, Valiant, Ant Bully and Tomorrow Never Dies.” In sum, Andre Thomas is a seasoned professional, the perfect person to build a trendsetting video game in the education sphere. But he didn’t simply want to build a new way to teach calculus digitally; he wanted to make a real 3D game comparable to the likes of Zelda and Final Fantasy, replete with breathtaking graphics and vivid characters. The result of his team’s exhaustive efforts is Variant: Limits, the first ever video game of its caliber designed to teach calculus.

For those of you who agree that math is important, you might be asking the following question: why calculus? Why not build a game around a more commonly tackled subject like algebra or geometry? According to Andre, calculus is at the heart of STEM degrees and pursuits. Moreover, it is reported that nearly 38% of students fail Calculus I, a staggering figure considering that this course is often a prerequisite for most engineering majors. Andre wanted to ensure that students had the best chance possible to pursue a STEM career of their choice, and sought to develop an exciting mechanism by which to teach calculus to anyone. The results thus far have been phenomenal. Not only has Trisesum earned a litany of awards from EdTech Digest and SXSW, but they have also managed to garner a great deal of attention from schools across Europe.

To learn more about this revolutionary company, go to To hear the entire interview with Andre Thomas, check out the full podcast interview.

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