CellCraft makes science funBy Johan Keyter 3 August 2010 | Categories: news
A team of scientists, middle-schoolers and software developers have partnered with Wake Forest University in North Carolina to create a surprisingly enjoyable video game that teaches gamers about science and microbiology.
The game, called CellCraft (no relation to Blizzard’s recently released StarCraft II), has been played more than a million times within just 10 days of its release. It is downloadable or playable online through free gaming sites such as Kongregate.com and Newgrounds.com.
After players have learned about the basic parts of a cell, the action starts. Players must save their cell from a variety of dangers ranging from freezing to death to being invaded by viruses to being digested by larger creatures.
The aim behind CellCraft is to encourage young gamers to pursue a career in the sciences. The team hopes to stimulate both adults and children’s interest in the sciences throughout the 176 countries in which the game is available.
Initial testing at school have shown that students who played the game for 30 minutes showed a statistically significant improvement on a cellular biology quiz. Gamers have also lauded the game as being complex and fun.
On Kongregate.com, one of the biggest web-based gaming sites, players have ranked it in the top 100 best games of all time out of the more than 30 000 available on the site, something which is quite unheard of for a free educational game.
“When we set out to teach students about cutting-edge cell science, we wanted our video game to rival the very best game in terms of sheer fun and entertainment value. It is a feat rarely accomplished,” said Jed C. Macosko, Ph.D., associate professor of physics at Wake Forest and science advisor to CellCraft.
CellCraft differentiates itself from other educational games by integrating the ‘fun part’ and the ‘learning part’ into the same dynamic. For example, to salvage precious resources players must first learn that lysosomes are required to recycle aging mitochondria and chloroplasts. Although this can be learned from a textbook, it sinks in much better when players are trying to save their cell from an aggressive viral attack.
This intriguing educational title is available for free download at www.cellcraftgame.com.
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