Game on: Seequent hopes geology app can stir students

Staff reporter

‘Applications like Visible Geology are dynamic tools that empower learners to explore’

One of the world’s leading earth science software providers has worked with a renowned New Zealand game development studio to produce a web application it hopes can help inspire next-gen geologists and geoscientists.

Christchurch-headquartered Seequent, part of US-based Bentley Systems, has launched Visible Geology as a free web app.

It was developed with CerebralFix, which has worked with the likes of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks on interactive digital products.

Seequent says Visible Geology gives students an immersive, 3D gaming experience that can build knowledge of key geological concepts.

Seequent’s Leapfrog 3D modelling software is used by many of the world’s mining, exploration and consulting companies.

It is also used by thousands of students, educators and researchers for low or no cost via Seequent’s global academic program.

About 4500 academic seats were requested by universities last year.

A Seequent spokesperson told they were used by lecturers and students in university courses, PhD students and other researchers.

“Globally, we estimate around 8000-12,000 students are actively using our products in their studies this year,” the spokesperson said.

“In EMEA, for example, we estimate around 2000-to-3000 students graduate annually with direct usage of our products in their studies.”

More than 500 leading universities are in Seequent’s academic program, including Oxford, Stanford, University of California and Imperial College.

However, universities worldwide have been reporting lower earth science enrolments and course reductions at a time of intense pressure on Earth’s resources.

Geology and geoscientists are critical to help understand and solve fundamental challenges such as finding critical minerals, geothermal energy sources and underground water.

Australia has seen a 40% slump in geoscience students completing degrees in the past eight years and professional bodies see a 50% deficit in the number of graduates needed by 2030.

The American Geosciences Institute says the US could have as many as 130,000 fewer geoscientists than it needs by 2030.

Seequent CEO Graham Grant said the company wanted to play a part in inspiring a new generation of earth scientists.

“We know how critical earth scientists are to understanding the earth’s resources and solving some of the world’s most urgent and complex challenges – from climate resilience to the energy transition,” he said.

“With falling enrolments and older professionals retiring, there is a workforce crisis ahead that is set to impact our way of life.

“That’s why we have taken our world-leading expertise in earth science software and brought in gaming expert CerebralFix to build Visible Geology and make it available to everyone for free.”

Seequent hired CerebralFix to work on Visible Geology because of its connection with the tech-savvy, digital native Gen Zs it is aimed at.

“CerebralFix have worked with the likes of Dreamworks and Disney before and Seequent wanted to leverage their expertise in gaming alongside their own experience in creating innovative and intuitive software for understanding the underground,” Grant said.

“Seequent is a world leader in creating software for geo-professionals, but as the target audience for Visible Geology is different working with a top gaming company ensured it was simple, fun and intuitive for the younger generation.

“Geology as a science is a very visual and creative skill.

“So it is imperative we employed a company that understands how to make a program look good to draw in the attention of the audience and to help the audience build on their 3D visualisation skills from a mental picture into a digital picture.”

Early indications are that CerebralFix has succeeded in the difficult job of binding recognisable interface tools with geological symbols, making using the software simple and relatable to geology, without the need of complicated manuals or training.

University of Canterbury geology lecturer Dr Kate Pedley and students at the New Zealand university who were part of the Visible Geology testing process found the app “intuitive and easy to use”.

Mouse and keyboard controls were intuitive, giving the app a “pick up and play” style similar to modern gaming.

“Students can play around with it and have a bit of fun and it builds understanding in a way that complicated 2D maps can’t,” Pedley said.

“Visible Geology builds a bridge for students to the professional geoscience software they will use in their careers.”

CerebralFix co-CEO Chelsea Rapp said video games could transform education by blending immersive experiences with interactive learning.

“They are much more than just entertainment,” she said.

“Applications like Visible Geology are dynamic tools that empower learners to explore and experiment in ways that traditional methods cannot match.”

To give Visible Geology a go, go to

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