A blasting good way to understand the complex and beautiful world of cell biology

The winner of the 2011 National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge have been announced and not surprisingly, one of our favorite contenders, FoldIt! has taken top prize. Since we have written about FoldIt! in the past (see Guilt-Free Computer Gaming for Protein Scientists) we won’t belabor the point any more. However, we will bring to your attention one of the runners up, Meta!Blast which is a serious game that explores the complexities of cellular and metabolic biology.

According to the website, Meta!blast, developed at Iowa State University, is a real-time 3D action-adventure video game, aimed at high school and undergraduate student audiences, meant to provide an entertaining, engaging experience while simultaneously educating players about cell biology. Players discover that their entire lab has been sucked up by a plant cell and it is their job to rescue the group while dodging the hazards associated with the internal cell environment. By immersing players into a virtual cell environment and allowing them to interact with it on their own terms, the developers hope that players will come to a greater understanding of the cell than they could learn from traditional diagrams and textbooks.

The game is available in both windows and mac version and can be downloaded at http://www.metablast.org/downloads

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