Sep 14, 2012

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Bacterial Shoot ‘Em Up Title Wins Gamify Your PhD Project

Bacterial Shoot ‘Em Up Title Wins Gamify Your PhD Project

Wellcome Trust, a charitable global foundation that supports game projects that engage gamers to learn more about bio-medical science, held its first Gamify Your PhD project. After two days of researchers being placed in the roles of game developers to create a title doctoral research, Gamify Your PhD has announced the winner. Competition among the six selected teams out of many applicants was impressive. This two day game hack brought forth a lot of creative ideas that ranged from survival to a ‘Guitar Hero‘ inspired parody. Below is the list of games, starting with the winning title:



Dysbiosis- Margherita Coccia with Clockwork Cuckoo and Force of Habit

We have evolved different mechanisms in our intestine to keep harmful invading microbes at bay, while fostering our beneficial bacteria. An imbalance in these mechanisms can put us at risk of chronic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or increase the chance of dangerous infection. In ‘Dysbiosis‘, the player controls a collection of cells that form part of the intestinal wall, shooting harmful oncoming bacteria and allowing through the healthy bacteria. Bonuses allow the player to form a defensive mucus shield, which can be further reinforced through contact with beneficial bacteria. Hits from pathological bacteria can eventually breach the wall, ending the game.


First Runner Up

Monsieur Baguette presents… RNA transcription of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae- Jane Elizabeth Anne Reid with Opposable Games

 RNA Polymerase II is the key enzyme responsible for the transcription of RNA in yeast cells, in a process that requires phosphorylation of serines and tyrosines in a specific sequence. The team decided to put together a pattern-matching game based around these chemical reactions and add a little humour – resulting in ‘Monsieur Baguette presents… RNA transcription of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae‘.


Second Runner Up

Similaria- Thomas Forth with Mobile Pie

Flux-balance analysis of the metabolic reactions in malaria is a powerful tool for predicting the parasite’s growth rate in different conditions and in response to different drugs. ‘Simalaria‘ is a resource management puzzle game that accurately reduces a metabolic network with nearly 1000 connections to one with just five important junctions that the user controls. Can you make the right decisions to create enough offspring and survive at the end of the parasite’s 48-hour life cycle? Or will you run out of energy and be overwhelmed by the body’s immune system?



Campy Command- John J Kendall with Remode

Campy Command‘ follows ‘Campy’ (the pathogenic bacterium Campylobacter jejuni) as it travels from its initial host (a chicken), into the aerobic environment (in this case a puddle) and onwards to infect a human host. The game starts out in a rhythm-action style as Campy collects amino acids to convert into energy. The second stage centres on protecting crucial metabolic enzymes from damage by avoiding damaging molecules of O2 and collecting protective haemerythrin proteins. The third stage focuses on the human immune response to infection as Campy races through the intestinal tract avoiding hydrogen peroxide, antibodies, macrophages and any other threats created by the host to stop it.


Ulysses Contract- Joanne Gordon with Locked Door Puzzle

A survivor game emphasising a ‘relational’ conception of the will in addiction recovery, ‘Ulysses Contract‘ comprises a complex interplay of internal and external factors following the environment and people in an addict’s life. The game has three levels of increasing difficulty, representing natural recovery, treated recovery and the revolving-door phenomenon. In the third level the player has the option of choosing a Ulysses Contract that boosts the will reserve, making it easier for the player to reach the end of the game.


Lab Hero: Womb for Improvement- Gemma Sharp with Thought Den

In a rhythm-based parody of ‘Guitar Hero’, players must guide their uterus samples through the lab and extract as much high-quality RNA as possible. Each phase of the scientific process is performed by a well-timed key press, and scores are awarded for the number and quality of samples processed. The game is inspired by the individually mundane actions performed in a lab that collectively amount to the proper rigour of scientific method.


[Source: Wellcome Trust]