BEM: Or Before E-Line Media

Even those who know us well sometimes don’t know that before there was E-Line Media, there was E-Line Ventures. E-Line Ventures was conceived by founders Michael Angst and Alan Gershenfeld with the vision of angel investing in digital media that could engage and empower youth. We wanted to create proof points of companies that could find the organic alignment between making money and making meaningful social impact. Based on these proof points, the plan was to raise a double-bottom-line fund focused on impact games and, possibly, other youth media platforms. We studied a number of media sectors and ultimately concluded that we could make the most impact with a primary focus on computer and video games.

After looking at more than hundred potential investment opportunities, it was clear that there is a gap in publishing expertise within the ecosystem of learning and social impact games. We found leading commercial game industry and educational publishers reluctant to embrace these projects because the risk profile is too high and the teams leading these projects lack certain core skills and assets required to support impact-focused games. Despite a growing number of venture capitalists that want to invest in the educational space, most projects lack investable management teams to attract venture capital. Until more experienced management teams demonstrate evidence of market traction or can refer to success stories in the sector, venture investors will continue to watch from the sidelines.

This is a visual that summarizes what we observed:

game-based-learning-chart 2

To help realize the potential for digital games to make meaningful learning impact and to help scale the overall sector, we felt we could be most effective as a publisher of game-based learning products and services. Our E-Line Ventures investment approach became the E-Line Media publishing approach, with a new goal to create a double-bottom line company founded specifically with the mission of scaling research-based learning platforms in a manner that balances financial sustainability, affordability, and reach to underserved communities. We hope that we will create commercial proof points as well as methodologies that can help rise the overall sector of game-based learning and ultimately positively effect more youth.

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The Blog Launches

In the last five years since launching E-Line Media, we have witnessed an incredible shift in perspective about the value of games for learning. Supported by a wealth of research and strong quantitative and qualitative feedback, the educational system has come to embrace games as an incredible way to motivate students’ interest in a variety of learning areas. Here at E-Line, we have been extremely pleased and encouraged by the number of teachers who have excitedly adopted Gamestar Mechanic, our first game-based learning product that has now been used by more than 350,000 youth and is in over 4,000 schools and after-school programs. We have also been excited to see the number of very strong learning games that have emerged from academia, organizations and studios focusing on educational and social impact games.

While we continue to see the power of games explored in a variety of positive ways, we believe that a place is necessary where we can share the many ideas, perspectives, tools, resources and research that are available and that will become available. We hope this blog will be just that. We are modeling this blog after a lab – a place for exploration, discussion, trial and error. We encourage those who are interested in games for learning or who are participants in the space to be contributors to this site. We look forward to building it with you.