At the upcoming Games for Health Conference to be held at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) will present the newest prototype of its educational game Immune Attack. The game is designed to simplify learning of the complex nature of the immune system:
Human body tissue structures serve as the playing field in this first person strategy game where immune cells face off against bacterial and viral infections. A teenaged prodigy with a unique immunodeficiency must teach his immune system how to function properly, or die trying. Using a nanobot and aided by a helpful professor, the teenager explores biologically accurate and visually detailed settings in pursuit of this goal…
Each subsequent level of Immune Attack features a different infection with a new type of immune cell for the player to train. The player zooms among red blood cells, squeezes through blood vessel walls, and scans and interacts with various objects to train his immune system to fight off the invading pathogens.
“Clearly, computer games hold special interest to a generation who has grown up with them, and as such, they show promise as educational tools. Our educational games program is undertaking research to better understand what features of games can be used to improve learning and to develop guidelines based on that research,” said Kay Howell, Vice President of Information Technologies at FAS.
As video games have become a common part of society, FAS is looking for ways to produce complex games that provide an environment for learning about history, problem-solving, and managing systems. Games and 3-D interactive simulations will one day revolutionize education and how people learn. FAS educational games help students and workers learn globally competitive skills in demand by employers.
“Games increase motivation, but it is not entirely clear why. For example, games typically include competition – either against a human opponent or a computer-generated one. They are often story-based, feature strong characters, and typically ‘keep score.’ The research challenge is to determine how these features contribute to learning,” said Howell.
Immune Attack is an educational video game jointly developed by FAS, Brown University and the University of Southern California.