A UW-Stout professor will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at the Rassbach Heritage Museum in Menomonie about Tombeaux, an award-winning video game he recently created.

Or is Tombeaux something more than a video game?

Dave Beck will discuss the artistic and research process involved in making Tombeaux, which takes players through 300 years of St. Croix River history.

After the talk, the game will be available to play. The talk is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome. The museum is at the north end of Wakanda Park in north Menomonie.

Beck created Tombeaux as an interactive historical experience, with players moving through five eras, ending in the future. A narrator guides the players, and 15 voice actors help re-create historical figures and icons.

Tombeaux means graves in French. Rivière Tombeaux, or river of the graves, was one of the original French names for the river.

“At the museum, we strive to present history in engaging and creative ways — making learning accessible to everyone in our community. We believe Tombeaux embodies all of those goals, and we are excited to be able to have him present the process he went through to create this amazing historic game,” said Melissa Kneeland, museum assistant director and museum educator.

Aspects of Tombeaux include 3D gaming, historical research, environmental issues and immersion in the past. “It’s meant to be enjoyed and experienced by both nongamers and gamers alike, no matter what their age,” Kneeland said.

Beck is director of UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design and previously was director of UW-Stout’s game design and development Bachelor of Fine Arts program, one of the top-ranked programs in the U.S. He also is associate dean of the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The game can be downloaded at the website for a small fee. The proceeds will go to the St. Croix Watershed Research Station to support the Artist at Pine Needles Program and general research about the river.

Tombeaux won the Juror’s Choice Award for Best Artwork at the 2018 Midwest Game Developer’s Conference and is an official selection in the 2019 Earth Day Film Festival in California.

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