MetaBlast! Virtual Cell: A Pedagogical Convergence between Game Design and Science Education
Anson Call, Steven Herrnstadt, Eve Wurtele, Julie Dickerson, Diane Bassham
Virtual Cell is a game design solution to a specific scientific and educational problem; expressly, how to make advanced, university level plant biology instruction on molecular and anatomical levels an exciting, efficient learning experience. The advanced technologies of 3D modeling and animation, computer programming and game design are united and tempered with strong, scientific guidance for accuracy and art direction for a powerful visual and audio simulation. The additional strength of intense gaming as a powerful tool aiding memory, logic and problem solving has recently become well recognized. Virtual Cell will provide a unique gaming experience, while transparently teaching scientifically accurate facts and concepts about, in this case, a soybean plant’s inner workings and dependant mechanisms on multiple scales and levels of complexity. Virtual Cell (from now on referred to as VC) in the future may prove to be a reference for other scientific/education endeavors as scientists battle for a more prominent mind share among average citizens. This paper will discuss the difficulties of developing VC, its structure, intended game and educational goals along with additional benefits to both the sciences and gaming industry.