'Shoot-'em-up' video game increases teenagers' science knowledge

December 8, 2009

While navigating the microscopic world of immune system proteins and cells to save a patient suffering from a raging bacterial infection, young teenage players of the "Immune Attack" video game measurably improved their understanding of cell biology and molecular science, according to a study that will be presented at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 49th Annual Meeting, Dec. 5-9, 2009 in San Diego.

Remotely controlling the Microbot Explorer, named for its 25-micron diameter, the teenagers traveled through the bloodstream and connective tissue, interacting at the with receptors, hormones and lipids that have been drawn to appear like the schematics that scientists use in their own models.

Game actions, such as the capture of white blood cells by proteins on blood vessel walls, mimic activities that occur in nature.

"Immune Attack," a "third person shooter," three-dimensional video game, was devised by Melanie A. Stegman, Ph.D., and Michelle L. Fox of the Learning Technologies Program at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C.

Collaborating directly with teachers, Stegman and Fox evaluated "Immune Attack" with 180 seventh grade students.

The students' knowledge, comprehension of game dynamics and confidence with the material were much higher than the 142 students who were tested after playing the Medical Mysteries Series , which covers non-molecular aspects of infectious disease.

"Additionally, we have used 'Immune Attack' to inspire high school computer programming classes to create their own new videos games based on 'Immune Attack,'" Stegman added.

The first edition of "Immune Attack" is available for free download at www.ImmuneAttack.org . " 2.0" should be released in early 2010.

Source: American Society for Cell Biology

Explore further: Immune cell actions likened to James Bond

Related Stories

Immune cell actions likened to James Bond

August 5, 2005

Scientists have found a group of immune system cells they say resemble James Bond, in that they receive a "license" allowing them to kill invaders.

Study: Tumors inhibit immune system

May 29, 2006

Seattle scientists have shown that tumors can manipulate the immune system to stop it from attacking cancer cells, said a study published in Nature Immunology.

Mounting a multi-layered attack on fungal infections

September 8, 2009

Unravelling a microbe's multilayer defence mechanisms could lead to effective new treatments for potentially lethal fungal infections in cancer patients and others whose natural immunity is weakened.

Recommended for you

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
And because of Halo i have an extensive knowledge of how energy based shielding and plasma technology works.
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
There are hundreds of games that teach you real world things. Other games make you want to go and learn about the real world things you're using in game.
I learnt tonnes of stuff from playing Civilization (all iterations) due to it's built in knowledgebase.
Even playing games like Halo, you are learning real world skills - just general improved hand-eye co-ordination is a hugely beneficial skill to have in so many things.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.