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Placenta: the video game


As I discovered while editing the new Stanford Medicine magazine report on childbirth, the placenta is a terribly important organ yet a big question mark for most people. To help demystify it we used a new kind of storytelling - an interactive simulation that allows you to observe and control the development of the placenta. It’s a companion to an article on the epidemic of the potentially fatal condition known as placenta accreta.

The producer, David Sarno, a former Los Angeles Times technology reporter and a 2013 John S. Knight Journalism fellow, built the simulation using the tools of video game design. It’s the first finished product of his start-up, Lighthaus, dedicated to creating interactive digital stories. If you’re curious about the placenta - or this new mixture of technology and storytelling - click on the image above to get to the video. (Note: To run the program you'll need the Unity web player, which is free and downloads pretty quickly at the link.)

Previously: From womb to world: Stanford Medicine Magazine explores new work on having a baby, Touchable journalism technology helps to teach medicine, Species-specific differences among placentas due to long-ago viral infection, say Stanford researchers and The placenta sacrifices itself to keep baby healthy in case of starvation, research shows
Illustration by Bruce Rudolph/Lighthaus Inc.

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