Revision as of 02:40, 28 September 2012 by Cqian (Talk | contribs)

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LAB ESCAPE Video Game!

Creating LAB ESCAPE: Our iGEM Video Game on Synthetic Biology

UCalgary2012 FRED & OSCAR Video Game.png

The 2012 iGEM Calgary team ventured into a new territory by developing the video game centered on synthetic biology called LAB ESCAPE. This provided a unique method to educate and entertain the public about the experiments iGEM students perform in the research lab. We focused the game on gel electrophoresis – a common molecular biology technique to separate and visualize DNA from PCR and restriction digests, or to verify purity of genomic and plasmid DNA isolation. Moreover, we incorporated safety procedures to further immerse the user in the research experience. LAB ESCAPE is part science, part fun, and all iGEM.

Why a video game?

The main purpose for the video game was to educate the user on the steps involved in performing synthetic biology. Often people outside of iGEM ask, “What do you do?” and/or “What do you mean you can see DNA?” We sought to address these questions by creating a user-friendly interface to help people learn about these techniques – hence the video game was created.

From storyboard to application

The initial stages were entirely focused on engaging the user in an environment that resembled a typical research lab. We created a script outlining the character’s actions and thoughts as the character started, progressed, and eventually escaped the research lab. We originally wanted to incorporate numerous experiments, but simplified the game (i.e.: gel electrophoresis) to avoid over-whelming the user and keeping the time requirement to a minimal. Once the general story was established, we took the next steps to create the digital version.

LAB ESCAPE was created using Adobe Flash and Illustrator. Members of the 2012 iGEM Calgary team created every graphical image and programming code using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Flash, respectively. Note some programming code was modified from open-source code online. From here we designed a ‘point-and-click’ adventure video game platform, where the user collects items required to complete a task. For LAB ESCAPE, these items were materials needed for a gel electrophoresis experiment, which provided a ‘code’ to allow the user to escape the locked lab.

UCalgary2012 LABESCAPE-Lab.png

After compiling the first build (i.e.: Pre-Alpha), we tested the game amongst our team, received comments, and optimized the game further. These comments helped improved the user interface and increase the content within the video game. Following a couple more versions, we started to share LAB ESCAPE among our friends, family and anyone willing to try our video game for more all-important feedback. By September 2012, we had a completely functional video game and asked if we could premiere the video game to the public at the TELUS SPARK science centre here in Calgary. !!!!!!! On September 29-30th we hosted an 2012 iGEM Calgary event for LAB ESCAPE, where several hundred people got to play and learn about synthetic biology – incredible fun!! !!!!!!!! We expect that several more people – scientists and non-scientists alike – will play, learn, and enjoy LAB ESCAPE as our iGEM wiki goes live in early October.

Can you escape LAB ESCAPE?

In general, LAB ESCAPE is a ‘point-and-click’ adventure. The user begins the game locked in the classroom (which is attached to the research lab) and must find a numerical code to exit. Using your cursor, you must collect DNA tubes to run the gel electrophoresis experiment (in the research lab). Once ran, the banding pattern of the DNA on the gel must match the assembled gel photo (from collected pieces throughout the two rooms) to provide a number code that unlocks the door to exit the lab.

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