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Paramecia PacMan: Researchers create video games using living organisms

PacMan.jpg

Much has been written this week about EteRNA, a video game that allows players to propose new molecular structures for RNA. But EteRNA isn’t the only biologically relevant Internet game on the Stanford block: As reported by Louis Bergeron today, physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, PhD, has developed “biotic games” involving paramecia and other living organisms.

The video games, which mimic arcade classics like PacMan, are the first “in which a player’s actions influence the behavior of living microorganisms in real time – while the game is being played.” And:

The goal is for players to have fun interacting with biological processes, without dealing with the rigor of conducting a formal experiment, said Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering.

“We hope that by playing games involving biology of a scale too small to see with the naked eye, people will realize how amazing these processes are and they’ll get curious and want to know more,” he said.

Riedel-Kruse is collaborating with biochemist Rhiju Das, PhD, one of the developers of EteRNA, and education professor Daniel Schwartz, PhD, on creating other biological games and applying them to education and research.
Previously: Mob science: Video game, EteRNA, lets amateurs advance RNA research
Photo by Mykl Roventine

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