Living microorganisms used to make video games

living microorganisms used to make video games 18277 large biogames riedelkruse newsA Stanford University researcher has combined biology and video games to create a biotic gaming experience.

Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, a physicist and assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, has developed a set of video games that utilize living cells to imitate classic games like PacMan and Pinball.

The biotic games incorporate living cells like paramecia, which are single-celled organisms, with video games in order to allow everyday people to participate in experiments and learn more about biological processes.

“We hope that by playing games involving biology of a scale too small to see with the naked eye, people will realize how amazing these processes are and they’ll get curious and want to know more,” said Riedel-Kruse. “The applications we can envision so far are on the one hand educational, for people to learn about biology, but we are also thinking perhaps we could have people running real experiments as they play these games. That is something to figure out for the future, what are good research problems which a person could really be involved in and make substantial contributions. This approach is often referred to as crowd-sourcing.”

The biotic gaming experience allows the user to control the actions of living microorganisms in real time by playing video games. There are a total of eight games that fall into three categories, and the three categories are whether a user is interacting with processes concerning single cells, colonies of single cells, or molecules.

The user controls the living microorganism with a controller, like most video games. In paramecia-related games, the paramecia is in a small fluid chamber in front of a camera that sends live images to a video screen with a game board placed over the image of the paramecia. The movements of the paramecia and the score are kept by a microprocessor.

Some of the games include PAC-mecium, which resembles PacMan in that paramecia eats little balls, Biotic Pinball, Ciliaball, and POND PONG. In Pac-mecium, the polarity of a mild electrical field is applied across the chamber of fluid, and is controlled by the user’s controller.

Other games, such as biotic pinball, work by injecting a chemical into the fluid causing the paramecia to swim in different directions. PolymerRace, which is a horse race-inspired game, consists of a user being linked to a PCR machine’s output, which is running different reactions at the same time. Users then bet on which reactions will run the quickest.

“We are talking about microbiology with these games, very primitive life forms,” said Riedel-Kruse. “We do not use any higher-level organisms. Since multiple test players raised the question of exactly where one should draw this line, these games could be a good tool to stimulate discussions in schools on bioethical issues.”

The next step is to use research from different scientific fields to create new educational video games.

“We would argue that modern biotechnology will influence our life at an accelerating pace, most prominently in the personal biomedical choices that we will be faced with more and more often,” said Riedel-Kruse. “Therefore everyone should have sufficient knowledge about the basics of biomedicine and biotechnology. Biotic games could promote that.”

This study was published in Lab on a Chip.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Johns Hopkins’ lab-grown human retina could lead to big insights

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University have successfully grown human retina tissue from scratch in a lab. The work could help with the development of new therapeutics related to eye diseases.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Gaming

Jump into an internet DeLorean and play free Commodore 64 games online

The Internet Archive has added more than 8,800 full Commodore 64 games to its software library. Here's how you can play them completely free in your browser without the need for a joystick.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ in-game tournaments will give you the chance to beat the pros

Epic Games is introducing in-game tournaments to Fortnite. The initial schedule includes five tournaments, with commemorative pins going to the victors. Down the road, the pins might grant you access into additional rounds.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' outshines the games it copies with that Call of Duty polish

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s omission of a campaign could have been a deal breaker, but multiplayer, Zombies, and the new Blackout mode make it one of the best shooters of the year.
Gaming

Here's how you can keep up with your favorite streamers at TwitchCon 2018

From sessions with your favorite streamers to epic Esports tournaments, there's plenty to look forward to at this year's TwitchCon 2018. We cover how you can attend, where you can watch if you can't, and which events you don't want to miss.
Gaming

Monsters you get in ‘Pokémon: Let’s Go’ can be transferred to the next main RPG

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eeevee! monsters will be able to be transferred to the next main Pokémon RPG on Switch, according to game director Junichi Masuda.
Gaming

Turbo-powered Quadcrasher crashes the party in new ‘Fortnite’ update 6.01

Season 6, week 4 marks the arrival of Fortnite update 6.10 patch notes. It brings with it the arrival of the new Quadcrasher vehicle, in-game tournaments, a ton of Save the World additions, and much more.
Gaming

What you should know about 'Red Dead Redemption 2' before it launches

The long-awaited (and long-rumored) sequel to Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption is confirmed. Red Dead Redemption 2 will arrive next spring. Here's everything we've heard about the game so far.
Gaming

PS4 ‘Spider-Man’ game gets ‘The Heist’ DLC, new costumes on October 23

The first downloadable content pack for Marvel's Spider-Man, The Heist, is out October 23. The pack adds three new suits for Spider-Man to wear, and its story focuses on Felicia Hardy.
Gaming

Tired of waiting for the PlayStation Classic? Try one of these PS1 emulators

It's not always easy to get ahold of original PlayStation titles due to pricing and general availability. Emulators can solve that problem. Here are the top five PlayStation emulators.
Gaming

Epic Games sues ‘Fortnite’ YouTuber creators over cheating software

Epic Games has filed a lawsuit against two YouTube users for their role in promoting cheating and hacking tools for Fortnite via a YouTube channel and personal website. As of now, the channel is still live.