Schell Games, the studio behind popular spy-themed VR puzzle I Expect You To Die (2016), today launched a VR chemistry lab practice game that aims to get students excited about chemistry by gamifying an otherwise time intensive (and possibly dangerous) lab learning experience.
Dubbed HoloLAB Champions (2018), the VR chemistry practice game is now available on HTC Vive via Steam for $8 (regularly $10). HoloLAB Champions is however free for educational instructors, students, and facilities. Eligible users can request educational copies of the game at on the company’s website.
Here’s what Schell Games has to say about HoloLAB:
In a game show-style setting, HoloLAB Champions guides players through a series of mini-labs that lead up to a final lab challenge. Earl, the holographic host, is a friendly commentator, armed with a fun sense of humor and a few eye-rolling science jokes. The camera-bot, Meyer, is his irreverent sidekick. Players score achievements based on their ability to perform tasks safely and accurately. Those who complete an event are awarded an elemental trophy and can take their place among the famed Hall of Brains. There is also a Practice Mode available, where players can hone their skills to prepare for the main event challenges.
The game was primarily designed for a single players, targeting students aged 14-18, but can be played in a group setting for immediate group and instructor feedback. Schell Games also offers a written classroom guide to help teachers integrate the game into their classroom and guide students through the labs. The added benefit is here is clearly safety—there aren’t any dangerous spills or lab equipment breakages in VR.
Schell Games says the game is a “companion tool to an in-person high school chemistry lab experience,” with two 30-40 minute episodes to teach players basic lab skills, procedures, and protocols.
The first episode is ‘Chemiluminescence’, where students need to mix correct amounts of liquid and solid ingredients to create a glowing chemical solution. The second episode, ‘Identify Unknowns’, presents students with a set of substances and, with limited reference information, players must correctly identify each substance.
“HoloLAB Champions is important because it teaches students about science and lab safety in an environment that is both educational and engaging,” said Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games. “Virtual reality is still a new and relatively untapped space so we are excited to see it being used in classroom settings. We look forward to gauging its effects on learning outcomes and student engagement in the future.”
HoloLAB Champions was funded in part by a SBIR grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, and further refined with the help of students, educators, and RAND Corporation, a non-profit global policy think tank.