Students wait in line to show their game ideas to scientists.
Students and two scientists at the same time.
On left is Dr. Rafael Bisso Machado, a scientist in Porto Alegre, Brazil and on right is Gaia Mortier, a grad student in Reading, England. On left they are discussing a game about the effects of geography, culture, and genetics on Human evolution. On the right they are discussing what kinds of information we can get by studying the remains of lice on preserved Humans from the Andies. Students are learning about isotopes, genotypes, phenotypes, linguistics, insect courtship and lifecycles, and they are learning how to organize information and ask questions to make sense out of content they do not understand yet.
I am challenging the students to build their mechanics around the science: so they are engaging the scientists in the discussion of how to indicate to the player whether the population of people the player is managing is genetically diverse. Students needed to learn the difference between allelic frequency and phenotypic frequency and then decide which one would give the player the most useful information for gameplay. After deciding that phenotypic frequency was the best measure to show, we considered whether this is a good way to introduce the concept of genetic diversity... Making fantastic games that are accurate to the natural world can be done: it just takes effort on the designing side!