Some call it a breakthrough in medical teaching methods; others call it a step in the right direction, a bound toward an educational focus in gaming. But most of us will probably just settle with, "A video
game about the immune system? What?!"
Strangely enough, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), in cooperation with Brown University and USC, has finalized their development a new medical video game – the first of its class – Immune Attack. The game is designed to help students who otherwise wouldn't exactly find polyphosphates or genomes particularly stimulating.
The game's protagonist, a teenage boy, is diagnosed with a medical immunodeficiency disease and must figure out what's wrong inside his body before he meets an untimely demise (in other words, don't screw up, or little Freddy will be a 'little dead-y').
The game is marked in the 'strategy' genre, and I suppose you could say it is in 'first-person-shooter,' except you don't have flamethrowers or hand grenades (those wouldn't bode too well inside the delicate tissues of the human structure). Much on the opposite spectrum, your only weapon is immune cells, your only enemies bacterial and viral infections. Don't be fooled though – some of those viral infections are total badasses, and they won't hesitate to pick a fight with your T-Cells. As you increase in level in the game, you will encounter new types of viruses, and thusly must train various types of cells to combat against your opposition.
Using a nanobot and a professor guide, the boy delves into his immune system, where the game primarily takes place. The setting and graphics are intricate and accurate – enough so that high schools across the nation will begin to incorporate the game into the classroom as early as January. Kay Howell, VP of Information Technologies with FSA, warmly advocates the clash between video games and informative research. "Clearly, computer games hold special interest to a generation who has grown up with them," says Howell, "and as such, they show promise as educational tools."
It's been a while since a game like this came along – a game that cleverly crafts ingenuity, educational value, and staring at a computer screen into a harmonious union. When I was a little kid, playing computer games like JumpStart molded my love for language and logic; I can only hope that this game will do the same for those youth out there dreaming of scalpels, and other medical paraphernalia.
Posted by Zack Crockett
Originally published at The Daily Galaxy's new companion site, The Galactic Emporium.