Gamify Your PhD

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Jul 11, 2012 12:02 PM EDT

Educational games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Mario Teaches Typing are officially a thing of the past, as today, the Wellcome Trust announced it's "Gamify Your PhD" project.

The Wellcome Trust is inviting two groups of people who usually don't mingle: researchers to share ideas for games based on their PhD work in biomedical science or the medical humanities; and small teams of games developers to turn these ideas into addictive, challenging and educational games. Those selected will partner at a two day hack in which the games will be created. The best of these will receive funding to develop into a releasable game.

To help inspire ideas and give researchers an idea of what's possible, a web-app has been commissioned, offering an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivation that lie behind successful game design. The web-app also features sample mini games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin inspired survival of the fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch's work on conformity, and a Newton-targeting apple game. There's quite a bit of old-school charm at work, so they're not exactly representative of what current technology is capable of. Hopefully the developers can improve on this.

Tomas Rawlings, the Wellcome Trust's gaming consultant said: "Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas."

The deadline for applications from researchers and developers is August 12, and the games hack will take place between the September 3 and 4 this fall. The resulting games will be made available online. All details about the scheme and the web-app guide to gaming can be found here.

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