The challenge was to design a game for a family audience, which could be played in only 5-10 minutes, and disseminate a series of scientific concepts about human genetic diversity.
To do this, we organized a work group with staff from the PRBB and Hangar, where scientists proposed the concepts that the game had to disseminate and Hangar was responsible for the design and development. The resulting interactive installation was a success, with more than 800 players in one day.
It was commissioned by the PRBB for its Open Day, held on October 2, 2010.
The project was a collaborative augmented reality game. Players create different creatures from cardboard cards printed with different patterns. The camera recognizes the pattern and creates a 'living creature' inside the computer. Then, players take them to a projected environment (playground) where creatures face hazards (viruses, climate changes, pollution, etc..) They can survive or not, depending on their genetic profile. Two different creatures can generate a new creature (a 'son') with a recombined genetic profile. In the end, we learn that communities with a high genetic diversity can better survive in hostile environments.
As scientists required, the game would not allow us to design a creature to have the best characteristics to survive, since in real live we cannot anticipate potential hazardous situations.
Our genome's inherited biological information is encoded in the form of DNA. This huge molecule exists in each of our cells and does not change during the life of an individual. Since the sequencing of the genome at the beginning of this century, we know that 99.9% of the genomes of two unrelated individuals are identical. Only 0.1% of the genome is different and this generates genetic diversity among individuals and populations.
Genetic diversity is reflected in the different physical aspects of people, their pre-disposition to certain diseases, the variable effects of drugs or the ability to fight viral infection, among many others. Humans are characterized by a still reduced genetic diversity, since we are relatively new species. Animals from a species with a million years on earth as gorillas, for example, you can see a much higher genetic diversity. In all species, genetic diversity increases with time. Thus, populations become resistant and strong enough to combat emergency situations as an attack by a new virus, climate change, or the development of toxins.
Game Design: Carme Romero
Game level design: Lluís Gómez, Reimund Fickert, Carme Romero
Scientific advisor: Reimund Fickert
Programming: Lluís Gómez i Bigordà, Sergi Lario
Art director: Arturo Galbete
Sound design: Álex Posada
Table construction and design: Kalle Ehlers
Video editing: Glòria Martí