Nanocrafter is a recently launched game about building nanoscale devices using small pieces of DNA. In the last decade, synthetic biologists have begun using the DNA mechanism of strand displacement, a predictable reaction occurring between three or more pieces of DNA, to produce everything from nanoscale computational circuits to mobile walkers capable of transporting payloads over DNA tracks. The field is still small, with only around 50 labs worldwide investigating a technique that holds great promise in diagnostics, therapeutics, and nanoscale manufacturing.
Nanocrafter aims to increase the number of people working in the field by orders of magnitude. Players learn how to build devices with DNA through a series of engaging levels that teach how to craft strand displacement-based reaction networks. Players can compete in challenge levels meant to foster creative solutions to open-ended scientific problems, giving the opportunity for players to improve upon published results. With social elements including peer review of solutions and forming groups to solve difficult problems, Nanocrafter’s players will team up with scientists to advance both the breadth and depth of synthetic biology research far faster than the scientists could alone.
- Orlando Sentinel, Serious game’ winners announced from I/ITSEC 2014
- KIRO Radio, Ron & Don show: August 26, 2014 – Hour: 4
- Good Magazine, “Follow the Crowd: NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence”
- Smithsonian Magazine, “How Scientists Are Using Games to Unlock the Body’s Mysteries”
- Fast Company, “Why Science Research Labs Are Getting Into Video Game Development”
- SynBioBeta (blog), “Can Video Games Inspire the Next Generation of Biohackers?”
- ScienceFriday, “Your video games may revolutionize health and scientific research”
- ScienceFriday, “Can We Game Our Way To Better Health?”
- New York Times’ The Learning Network, “What Have You Learned Playing Videogames?”
- Polygon “How to make educational games more effective”
Serious Games Showcase and Challenge, “Best Serious Game, Special Emphasis Category, Use of Social Media”. December 2014.
- Released : April 23, 2014