World TB Day (24th March, every year) raises awareness for the disease which continues to be an epidemic around the world. I felt it only natural to include a science-related FMF in this month specifically because of a game project that I've had no secrecy in admiring. Sanitarium was a student-led game developed in partnership with St Andrews University. You can read more about the game and its intentions here: it marries the theme of this month quite appropriately with World TB Day.
This month, I was curious to find out what contributions science-related games have made or continue to make. What challenges were faced in making science-related games? What is your perspective of games for scientific development?
Read below for this month's entries and catch the theme and dates for next month's FMF at the bottom!
Games for the Advancement, Awareness, and Education of Science
This month’s topic is very broad to write about. Science itself has so many branches and theories that the application of games to the subject is overwhelmingly exciting. As someone who has started the cross-discipline of games and, in my case, healthcare, there are so many avenues to be explored.
Games are the one form of media that offers interactivity. And there are so many forms of communicating through this interactivity. Whether it is creating a game for awareness, entertainment, education, training, etc. there are a multitude of possibilities for developing games to do with science. In my opinion, all games are associated with science. Physics is a component of almost every triple-A production game. And game development follows methodological principles similar to that in a scientific procedure (a lot of scientific methodology comes up in video game studies).
Games are moving into new genres as well. Developers need to think of new markets, new ideas to differ their product from the crowd. Look at the new title from the folks who developed Don’t Starve. Their new title, Oxygen Not Included, demonstrates the player balancing oxygen and elements to allow their colonists to survive. At its core, the game follows foundation science as methods of progression. Yet it’s commercially still an entertainment game.
Digital games have formed an integral part of scientific advancements in the last five to ten years. Games such as Play to Cure and Reverse the Odds have allowed scientists to make real, positive strides in finding a cure for cancers and understanding cell behaviours; Project Sanitarium challenged the means in which to make a game, stemming from mathematical enquiry to understand tuberculosis. However, the digital platform is one of many potential game environments to make contributions. Pox is a good example, which compared physical and digital copies of the same game and measured players' feelings towards pandemics. The research on this found that the physical board game led to further engagement (as the game's rules had to be 'learned' as opposed to simulated) and higher emotional responses (because human players were visible and present, as opposed to playing over a network). This highly-social and somewhat traditional method of gameplay is proving to be more contributory to human reactions as their digital counterparts.
"FMF Vol. 5" Example Topic: Classrooms and Beyond: Games and Lifelong Learning.
Submission Deadline: 30th April 2017
Published: 5th May 2017
Submissions made to: Andrew.Reid@GCU.ac.uk