Biology Games With Biology Playing Pieces

From this week’s Studio 360 (check your local public radio stations, it may air near you tomorrow), you can learn about the games coming out of the lab of Ingmar Riedel-Kruse at Stanford University.  He studies biophysics, and part of his work involves what he calls biotic games.  Where some of the science-related games noted here have had biology as a subject, these games are more traditional in their play, resembling arcade classics.

The difference (and where radio proves a bit inadequate for the story) is that biological organisms function as the characters in the game.  The controller manipulates electrical fields to direct the movement of paramecium, as outlined in this video.

Reidel-Kruse and his colleagues have published their work on these games and their educational and research potential in the journal Lab on a Chip.  Their article is available for free, but registration or institutional membership is required.  It’s worth taking a look, in part because you learn about games not involving paramecium.  And its these games that seem to push the concept past interesting amusement into teaching tool.  Because in games like The Prisoner’s Smellemma and PolymeRace the play provides opportunities to learn more about scientific concepts and/or research methods.