A study has found that 'Immune Attack'-a video game that enables young players to course through the microscopic world of immune system, proteins and cells, in order to bring relief to a patient in the throes of a severe bacterial infection may improve players' comprehension of cell biology and molecular science.
In the game, players remotely control the Microbot Explorer, named for its 25-micron diameter, and travel through the bloodstream and connective tissue, interacting at the nanometer scale with receptors, hormones and lipids that have been drawn to appear like the schematics that scientists use in their own models.
Game actions, such as the capture of white blood cells by proteins on blood vessel walls, mimic activities that occur in nature.
And the people behind 'Immune Attack', a 'third person shooter', three-dimensional video game, were Dr. Melanie A. Stegman, and Dr. Michelle L. Fox of the Learning Technologies Program at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C.
Collaborating directly with teachers, the researchers evaluated "Immune Attack" with 180 seventh grade students.
The students' knowledge, comprehension of game dynamics and confidence with the material were much higher than the 142 students who were tested after playing the Medical Mysteries Series video game, which covers non-molecular aspects of infectious disease.
"Additionally, we have used 'Immune Attack' to inspire high school computer programming classes to create their own new videos games based on 'Immune Attack,'" added Stegman.
The study will be presented at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 49th Annual Meeting in San Diego.