Tag Archives: science

Royal Society invites online gamers to vote for their favourite science inspired game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.
The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further – perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July. The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia.
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said: “We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam. The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Auroch Digital produced the event and also developed a game for one of the exhibitions, Zombeetle & The Fossil Colour Quest.

 Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Some links to this:

Do you have an idea for the next ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’, ‘Pandemic’ or ‘Splice’? Get £10K To Make it Happen!

The Wellcome Trust and Develop Conference have a new scheme to develop game ideas inspired by biomedical science into mass market games!  If you are successful in applying you get £10K to develop the idea, mentoring during the process and take part in a live pitch at Develop to a panel of experts including publishers.  You’ve got until the 26th April to get your submissions in, so best to get moving now!

Develop in Brighton in partnership with the Wellcome Trust brings a Live Pitch event to this year’s conference. Apply for Development Funding and Pitch Your Game at the Develop in Brighton Conference 2013.

Do you have an idea for the next ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’, ‘Pandemic’ or ‘Splice’?

Developers are invited to apply for the chance to receive up to £10,000 each to develop a high-impact pitch for their game to help secure a distribution platform and funding. The ideas for your game need to draw on or be inspired by contemporary or historical biological or medical science in an innovative and accessible way. The games can be developed for any mass-appeal genre, platform or business model. Those who are successful will go on to pitch their developed game ideas to a panel of publishers and funders at a live event at Develop in Brighton on Wednesday 10 July 2013. Panellists joining the Wellcome Trust include Sony XDev and crowd-funding platform Indiegogo. Participating developers will be invited to receive additional pitch training ahead of the live event.

More information and details of how to apply are here: http://bit.ly/Zqvzj1

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Upgrade Image

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Upgrade Image

First Syria, now Climate Change: Controversial Game Developers Explore Global Warming in New Game

BRISTOL, UK JANUARY 18th, 2013: Having made waves worldwide by covering the brutal Syrian civil war in the form of a game, the developers behind Endgame:Syria have released their latest ‘news game’ and this time the subject is not war, but carbon.  Titled ‘Climate Defense‘ the free game released today for Android devices, offers the player the chance to stop CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere by capturing it in nature’s carbon sinks, trees.  However there is a twist – before the game begins the player is offered a choice, if they want to play the game for fun or as a more realistic simulation – a choice that will lead to a very different gameplay experience.  The games designer, Tomas Rawlings, explained more; “Normally with a video game, the developers will have made huge concessions to ensure the game is fun so with a shooting game you may be able to be shot and recover many times over which is not realistic, but does make the game fun. In Climate Defense, that distinction is apparent so you can have fun playing the game or you can choose a more realistic experience and see how our continued emissions will impact our world.”  The game is free to download from the Google Play store or from the GameTheNews website.

The creators of both games, GameTheNews, became a global talking point over their release of a game covering an ongoing war, have clearly decided that making games about difficult and controversial topics is not something they are willing to shy away from.  There is no sign of them turning to the more traditional topics of gaming such as zombies or aliens and they are currently developing a game about the ‘War on Drugs’.

Screenshot from ‘Climate Defense’ Click to Download from Google Play.

Winning Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam Entries now Online to Enjoy!

A busy audience assembled at the ExPlay event in Bath on the 2nd of November to hear the winning games announced from the eight short-listed titles. After much anticipation Professor Bruce Hood awarded the winning teams their prizes:

First Prize: HIVe (Java download, video)

In HIVe the deception moves to a molecular level, where one player is a HIV infected cell disguised as a normal cell, seeking to infect other cells. The second player is an antiretroviral seeking to find and destroy the infection. The developers write, “The objective of the HIV player is to infect as many cells as possible before being caught by the antiretroviral drug player. We felt that the lifecycle of a virus is a constant battle of deception with the body and our game tries to capture this whilst at heart still being a game and being fun. We felt using HIV as the virus was important for its relation to scientific research and global social issues.”

HIVe screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Second Prize: Qualit-eye Control (iPad, video)

Based around the structure of the human eye and using the inspiration of the Thatcher Illusion, where it becomes hard to detect changes in an upside-down face. In this puzzle game, the player must select if a given object is really the same as its mirrored counterpart. The developers wrote of their game; “Given the theme of deception in science, we began thinking about how the human eye is an astoundingly amazing tool – yet deceptive. The human brain has to process a lot of data continually, so will occasionally make assumptions and take shortcuts, meaning we occasionally interpret false images in line with our expectations… So we developed Qualiteye Control, a game that puts the player in the position of a miniature scientist acting as a controller between the eyeball and the brain of Prototype X1.”

QualiteyeControl screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Wildcard Prize: InCogNeto (Android download)

A two-player game in which each player must connect cogs to a top wheel and at each turn select it to mask their actions or advance their plans. The developer wrote of their game, “…inspired by the idea of subterfuge, how we deceive ourselves and create false realities when we don’t have all the information… Strategy and tactics play an important role as you read your opponent’s body language, listen for audible clues (i.e. the rack moving) and use spatial memory to spot changes in the playspace. While your body is performing quality control of a widgetoid factory – you must decide what widgetoids are correct, and which ones are being falsely interpreted and need to be rejected quickly.”

InCogNeto screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay.

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges, Professor Hood, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust and Dan Efergan, Creative Director at Aardman Digital, looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay. The games needed to be fun to play; they were not looking to develop a ‘worthy’ game, it needed to be fun in its own right. The aim was to make the combination of the science and the gameplay engage the player; those that did scored well.

The games were created on the 5th and 6th of October during the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam. The event, held over two locations, the Science Museum in London and the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, saw over 100 developers create 22 entries around the theme of Deception. Where possible, the games from the event are available online at: explay.co.uk/gamesjam and are free to play.

Links to this story:

ExPlay 2012: What can games offer science and society?

There is a write-up on Edge of the recent ExPlay session that Auroch Digital’s Tomas Rawlings chaired:

It’s encouraging to hear from developers engaged with areas such as science and education who are so passionate about ‘traditional’ gaming values. The idea of closely aligning education with game goals – needing to know that copper conducts electricity in order to solve a puzzle, for example – is a simple, but powerful one.

The Games/Science/Society Panel at ExPlay (image by ExPlay UK)

Auroch Digital wants to say a huge thanks to the ExPlay people for making us feel so welcome and putting on such a great event!

The talk above happened the day before the games from the Wellcome Trust ExPlay games jam’s shortlisted game’s were showcased.

Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam Shortlist Announced!

On the 5th and 6th of October this year we held the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam (also see here). This event, over two locations, the Science Museum in London and the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, saw over 100 developers create 22 games around the theme of Deception. The theme was presented to the group by Professor Bruce Hood.

The judging panel, Professor Hood, John Williams – Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust and Dan Effingham – Creative Director at Aardman Digital, reviewed the games, and eight out of 22 were then shortlisted to be shown at the ExPlay Festival on the 2nd November. Prize-winners will also be announced at the event for first and second place and a Wildcard place too. The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay. The games needed to be fun to play; they were not looking to develop a ‘worthy’ game, it needed to be fun in its own right. The aim was to make the combination of the science and the gameplay engage the player; those that did scored well.

The shortlisted games (in no particular order) are:

Alien Laser Bunnies (Unity download) – video link
A two-player game about hiding within the crowd. Players must figure out which of the identical bunnies is them, then collect objects and use their laser to kill the other player before they can do the same. The movement of the other bunnies is based on an algorithm that records the movements of the players and re-uses them for movement of AI controlled bunnies. The developers wrote of their game; “Winning at Alien Laser Bunnies requires people to exercise social mimicry. They must imitate the movements of previous players in order to best deceive their opponent. In this respect it provides a strong framework for various tactics of deception. Further, the game tends towards a state of homeostasis as the mimicry creates a feedback loop of behaviours.”

Alien Laser Bunnies screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Qualit-eye Control (iPad) – video link
Based around the structure of the human eye and using the inspiration of the Thatcher Illusion, where it becomes hard to detect changes in an upside-down face. In this puzzle game, the player must select if a given object is really the same as its mirrored counterpart. The developers wrote of their game; “Given the theme of deception in science, we began thinking about how the human eye is an astoundingly amazing tool – yet deceptive. The human brain has to process a lot of data continually, so will occasionally make assumptions and take shortcuts, meaning we occasionally interpret false images in line with our expectations… So we developed Qualiteye Control, a game that puts the player in the position of a miniature scientist acting as a controller between the eyeball and the brain of Prototype X1.”

QualiteyeControl screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

InCogNeto (Android download)
A two-player game in which each player must connect cogs to a top wheel and at each turn select it to mask their actions or advance their plans. The developer wrote of their game, “…inspired by the idea of subterfuge, how we deceive ourselves and create false realities when we don’t have all the information… Strategy and tactics play an important role as you read your opponent’s body language, listen for audible clues (i.e. the rack moving) and use spatial memory to spot changes in the playspace. While your body is performing quality control of a widgetoid factory – you must decide what widgetoids are correct, and which ones are being falsely interpreted and need to be rejected quickly.”

InCogNeto screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

HIVe (Java download) – video link
In HIVe the deception moves to a molecular level, where one player is a HIV infected cell disguised as a normal cell, seeking to infect other cells. The second player is an antiretroviral seeking to find and destroy the infection. The developers write, “The objective of the HIV player is to infect as many cells as possible before being caught by the antiretroviral drug player. We felt that the lifecycle of a virus is a constant battle of deception with the body and our game tries to capture this whilst at heart still being a game and being fun. We felt using HIV as the virus was important for its relation to scientific research and global social issues.”

HIVe screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

DupliCity (Unity download) – video link
This action game sees the player running along trying to avoid objects, but with a twist, as the game itself sets out to confuse and deceive. The developer states: “You and your shadow run simultaneously in mirror worlds populated by obstacles. Why? To escape. Also because there’s fireworks at the end! Through the use of asymmetry, transparency, repetition and subliminal signs, the game helps you overcome the obstacles but also misleads you. A briefly flashing arrow directing you; a sign on a truck; a crate that looks real but isn’t – things that you notice and take for granted even if you aren’t paying attention.”

Duplicity screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Doors of Deception (Flash download)
In this game we have to ask ourselves to question the truth of what the game is telling us. Can the game deceive us more that we can progress? The game is a five level puzzle game of truth, lies, deception, illusions and more. You can only progress if you figure out how to solve the puzzles in spite of the seemingly helpful narrator.

Doors of Deception screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

The Art of Deceit (Web-Comic) – video link
A web-comic about deception, the developers write, “The Art of Deceit is an interactive science fiction comic for children that explores the role of falsehood and misinformation in the intelligence services. Set on a distant asteroid, the player takes on the role of a spy with a vital top secret mission… Success is dictated by the player’s ability to correctly spot and interpret optical illusions. As a whole the game highlights that visual perception cannot always be trusted. The components of an object can distort the perception of the complete object. Our mind is the final arbiter of truth.”

The Art of Deceit screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Blood Stream Bandits (Android download) – video link
In this action game, we again return to the molecular level, “Working together with a neurobiologist, we came up with a game inspired by viruses that enter the bloodstream and deceive body defences by pretending to be harmless cells. In our game you control triangular shapes, which can be combined to form squares. There are two types of monsters, one eats triangles and the other eats squares, and each can be deceived by arranging your units in the corresponding opposite shape. The game requires reflexes and quick thinking to arrange your units to deceive as many enemy cells as you can.”

Remember, each of these games had a maximum of 24 hours of development and given many teams elected to catch a few hours sleep, most of them had less. So a huge well done to all the teams who competed, not just those shortlisted; the judges had a tough time with their selections!

Wellcome Trust ExPlay Games Jam a Huge Success!

The Wellcome Trust ExPlay game jam has happened and was, by all accounts, a huge success.  We’re still collating the games produced but over the 24 hours of the 2 sites the event ran at over 20 games have been produced – and the quality is very high!  It was expertly opened by Professor Bruce Hood – who gave the theme – Deception. Here’s a few images from the Bristol end of the event:

Prof Bruce Hood @ Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012 Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012 Prof Bruce Hood @ Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012

It also got a good preview on RockPaperShotgun:

My home represents the ideal. I am a gamer, my wife is a scientist. And combined, our interests make us THE GREATEST COUPLE ON EARTH. (Except she hates games.) Presumably modelled on our union is this weekend’s game jam from the Wellcome Trust – a science-themed event called ExPlay 2012. (The same Wellcome Trust who are supporting this year’s Make Something Unreal, as it happens.) Taking place tomorrow and Saturday in Bristol and London, it aims to combine the hardcore explorative processes of game making with the mysterious magicks of science.

PS. There is a video of one of the games online. More to follow!

Professor Bruce Hood to open the 2012 Games Jam

The Game Jam is now sold out, which is great news, but even better is that we’ve got Professor Bruce Hood to open the 2012 Games Jam and announce the theme!

We are extremely pleased to announce that Professor Bruce Hood, who holds the chair of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, will be opening the game jam and revealing the theme for the following 24 hours of frenetic game development.

Professor Hood is known to millions of people from his numerous books, articles and TV appearances including the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures broadcast on the BBC, continuing the venerable tradition started by Michael Faraday in 1825. His written works include two popular science books “SuperSense” (HarperOne, 2009) about the natural origins of supernatural beliefs and “The Self Illusion” (Constable & Robinson 2012) about the fallacy that we are coherent, integrated individuals but rather a constructed narrative largely influenced by those around us.

Professor Hood said, “I’m really excited to be unveiling the theme for the 2012 Welcome Trust Game Jam – science opens so many potential doors of inspiration for developers, I will be fascinated to see how it inspires new games from this event.”

You can find out much more at Bruce’s blog.

Puns and prototypes: behind-the-scenes at ‘Gamify your PhD’

There is a post on the Wellcome Trust blog that has some thoughts on the Gamify Your PhD session, images and also – most importantly – links to all of the games!

“Addictive, challenging and educational,” that was the remit for the 6 teams taking part in this week’s‘Gamify you PhD’ event at the Wellcome Trust. The two-day hack event brought together PhD researchers and games developers from across the UK for what Wellcome Trust’s Daniel Glaser called an “innovative interaction”. The aim? To create new games that could explore and explain the latest developments in biomedicine, and more specifically the PhD research of the scientists taking part.

Tomas Rawlings, gaming consultant for the Wellcome Trust, explained the rationale behind the initiative, saying, “Science and games are a natural fit: both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves in and achieving this by experiments such as trial and error.”

Front screen of Monsieur Baguette – Click for more!

Biology, Authenticity and Fiction

Over on the Wellcome Trust blog, Auroch Digital’s Tomas wrote a guest post about how they had worked with medical history experts to upgrade the authenticity of a game:

Authenticity matters in media, and it matters in games too. Titles like Call of DutyMedal of Honorand many others employ military advisors to improve the authenticity, and hence the sense of realism, for the player. Any game, even one set within a fantasy world, can benefit from this, which is why it was key to us in the making of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land. Although the game is partly based on works of horror and science fiction we wanted to make the World War I setting as authentic as possible.

The Wasted Land is a strategy RPG. You command a team of investigators to uncover a deadly inhuman conspiracy underlying the Great War, during which your units can and do get wounded. Of course, your team recovers from wounds faster than in reality, but we took pains to make the nature of the equipment and process used as authentic as possible. And because there was little out there to inform us, we’re grateful to a small grant from the Wellcome Trust, which allowed us to research thehistorical medical information we would use in the game.

WWI: drawing of Royal Army Medical Corps, by F. Matania (via Wellcome Images)


This post was picked up by the front page of WordPress.com and has become of the the Wellcome Trust’s most popular posts as a result. There is a longer version of this article over at PocketTactics.

While on the subject of Call of Cthulhu and biology, Tomas didn’t just stop there:

What Darwin did was to point out that death, both of the individual and the species was the normal part of nature. This was and still is a major change to how we see ourselves and the world around us. Because for our very brief life-spans things don’t seem to change that much, it can be hard to appreciate just how much change does occur on a wider time-scale. We still sort of don’t fully get it. We talk of environmental protection to ‘save the planet’ when the planet will be fine either way. It’s our (and other living species’) ability to live on the planet that is under threat from our polluting ways. Hence political philosophers like John Gray argue that we’ve not yet full grasped the meaning of Darwin’s work; that humans too will one day die out. Cthulhu gets it too, as he lies there dreaming of the end of the age of mankind and his return to the surface; “Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer.”

Sweet dreams, all!