Biology flash game (Done!)

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Idhan
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Idhan » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:51 pm UTC

Look. Some games like Civilization show how your tribe goes from the neolithic to the space age, with every step between -- bronze tools, iron, domestication of horses, steam engines, transistors, possibly into the future. Other games are more like "the year is 1940. You take the place of Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt, or Tojo. You can build tanks, destroyers, battleships, aircraft, and train infantry regiments. There are no samurai or Roman legionaries, and there are no nuclear submarines or stealth bombers: just 1940-1945 technology." These games omit the history of development (which is not to say that games like Civilization demonstrate a great grasp on grand sweep of history either). Can we acknowledge that the choice to make an Axis & Allies type game is, if not your personal preference, at least a legitimate one? This seems to me to be a reasonably close analogy to Cellcraft. A historical perspective of development -- evolutionary for Cellcraft, technological for era-specific games of the Axis & Allies variety -- is omitted in favor of a focus on a specific state.

uncivlengr wrote:I'm not sure if I was doing it wrong or if it was a glitch, but at one point I was generating those "slicers" to combat a virus, but they just continued to flock to a single virus without killing it... I had 50 slicers out before I hit the max and gave up.


Well, it depends on the type of virus you're dealing with. Slicers attack viral RNA, and nothing else. This makes them very effective against injectors, since injector RNA has to travel all the way from the membrane to the ribosomes to reproduce, but there's only a narrow span when they're effective against invaders and infesters, since those actually enter the cell and get close to the ribosomes or nucleus before releasing their RNA (or DNA in the case of infesters).

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:18 pm UTC

Idhan wrote:Look. Some games like Civilization show how your tribe goes from the neolithic to the space age, with every step between -- bronze tools, iron, domestication of horses, steam engines, transistors, possibly into the future. Other games are more like "the year is 1940. You take the place of Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt, or Tojo. You can build tanks, destroyers, battleships, aircraft, and train infantry regiments. There are no samurai or Roman legionaries, and there are no nuclear submarines or stealth bombers: just 1940-1945 technology." These games omit the history of development (which is not to say that games like Civilization demonstrate a great grasp on grand sweep of history either). Can we acknowledge that the choice to make an Axis & Allies type game is, if not your personal preference, at least a legitimate one? This seems to me to be a reasonably close analogy to Cellcraft. A historical perspective of development -- evolutionary for Cellcraft, technological for era-specific games of the Axis & Allies variety -- is omitted in favor of a focus on a specific state.

I understand all of that. But!

  • Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. The game doesn't have to be evolution-focused - the point of the game is to teach you about cellular structures - but having only a single reference to the concept in the encyclopedia entries for the game, which are meant to provide extra learning opportunities, is very weird.
  • Pointing out how complex the cell is while conspicuously leaving out any mention of evolution is a common creationist tactic.
  • The people who wanted to make the game in the first place, and who served as the biology advisors since the programmers don't have a lot of biology knowledge, are creationists.

Honestly, the last point is like having a moon-hoaxer work on a space 4x game, or a flat-earther write an educational map for children. Even if the end product looks all right, you're going to be on the alert for ideology to slip in. Creationism is just all the more insidious here because of the publicly documented 'wedge strategy' which explicitly suggests avoiding mentioning religion while attempting to dilute science education.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:55 am UTC

Plus the cell game doesn't intentionally ignore the development of the cell at all - you start with a simple structure and witness as the cell develops more complex organelles over time.

In the sense you're describing it's in fact much closer to Civilization than Axis & Allies.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:18 pm UTC

You know, the game also didn't mention that Hitler was a really, really bad guy. I think it is a NAZI game!! [application of Godwin's law absolutely intentional]

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:00 pm UTC

Sigh.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby ++$_ » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

The problem is that the game doesn't ignore the development of the cell completely. You are going along normally and suddenly -- BAM! -- "You got the Golgi Apparatus!"

Well, how the hell did that happen?

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby SirMustapha » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:35 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:The problem is that the game doesn't ignore the development of the cell completely. You are going along normally and suddenly -- BAM! -- "You got the Golgi Apparatus!"

Well, how the hell did that happen?


Besides, the platypuses in the game talk and wear labcoats! How the hell is THAT possible? The game is CLEARLY preaching religion! Heck, I am already brainwashed just thinking about it! Which way to Mecca?

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:47 pm UTC

If it were a game intended to educate the player on the behaviour of platypuses, that would be a fair point.

This is obviously not just a flash version of Spore, intended to be a fun game based loosely based on biological concepts. If it's supposed to be educational and it's lacking in important information, then its usefulness as an educational tool is diminished.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:The problem is that the game doesn't ignore the development of the cell completely. You are going along normally and suddenly -- BAM! -- "You got the Golgi Apparatus!"

Well, how the hell did that happen?

Nah, that's not a problem. The scientists are making an artificial cell. I mean, at the *very* beginning the cell doesn't make much sense, but who cares? They're shoving in parts as they prove necessary, which is cool and fits the standard "A LEVEL UP IS YOU!!!" mechanic.

SirMustapha wrote:Besides, the platypuses in the game talk and wear labcoats! How the hell is THAT possible? The game is CLEARLY preaching religion! Heck, I am already brainwashed just thinking about it! Which way to Mecca?

Dude, who are you even talking to? I don't understand why you find it amusing to make fun of your own imagination.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby SirMustapha » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:19 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:I don't understand why you find it amusing to make fun of your own imagination.


Yes, because obviously I am the one on an obsessive, paranoid witch hunt for any signs of "Creationism" in games with educational content. What is this? Evo-McCarthyism?

I just think it's a good general guideline to stop when it starts getting irrational. Just the "subversive" in the title of that blog post linked above sent shivers down my spine: yes, because they, who refuse to comply with our values of FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY and EVOLUTIONISM are clearly agents evil. YOUR NEIGHBOUR might be a Creationist. That person, developing a harmless Flash game across the street, may be using his secret tools to spread the values of Creationism, Communism and SLAVERY to our Holy Nation.

Remember the Moon landings? Why did Armstrong say it was a "giant leap for mankind", as if mankind could just "magically" jump there instead of actually evolving all the way to that point? That's a very common tactic among Creationists, you know!!

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:01 am UTC

Dude, it was a biology game project run by creationists. It's not paranoid to say "Um, hey, something seems fishy here." Creationists are really, truly, trying to change the way science is taught so that more people will believe in their god.

Creationists aren't a dime-a-dozen in academia, you know. You don't walk down the hallways of bio labs and just bump into creationists doing reputable biological research very often. They tend to concentrate in crazy-time colleges that offer actual degrees wherein the earth being six thousand years old is an accepted part of the canon, like Liberty University that DeWitt from the project teaches at. (He teaches Biology and Creation Studies there.)

Then combine that with the actual textbooks and similar items produced by creationists, which combine true biological knowledge with a near-complete lack of the evolutionary theory that ties everything together.

Then take a look at the game. It was led by creationists, contains plenty of true biological knowledge, but only a single reference to evolution in the entire thing (and that was written by one of the programmers, a physic student).

I don't think this is some grand conspiracy. That's retarded. What I do think is that it's a fairly standard creationist effort to undermine biology instruction through omission. I'm sorry that the programmers were naive enough to think that a pair of creationists would lead them honestly in the creation of their game. I also think that, despite that, it's a pretty fun game, and works well for its intended purpose - teaching people about cellular structures and how they work together in a living cell. For full effect, it just needs to be accompanied by an actual biology teacher able to connect the dots and fill in the gaps in the game's teaching.

As a learning aid and something that'll get students interested in the subject, I think it's great. It's just tainted by its origins and associations, and the actual execution fits an established pattern.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:30 am UTC

Speaking of "irrational", SirMustapha stop making things up that don't exist - nobody is getting all worked up about the game being a conspiracy, merely pointing out its flaws as an educational tool. Your posts are the most overblown of anyone's in this thread, and you're the one accusing people of being obsessive.

You're batting a thousand with the bad analogies, by the way; the use of a metaphor is hardly comparable to intentionally omitting proven science from education because it's supposedly 'controversial'.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby SirMustapha » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:51 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:Creationists are really, truly, trying to change the way science is taught so that more people will believe in their god.


I know.

Xanthir wrote:Creationists aren't a dime-a-dozen in academia, you know. You don't walk down the hallways of bio labs and just bump into creationists doing reputable biological research very often.


... yeah, I read it on the Internet and therefore it's true.

Xanthir wrote:Then take a look at the game. It was led by creationists, contains plenty of true biological knowledge, but only a single reference to evolution in the entire thing (and that was written by one of the programmers, a physic student).


Yes, I am aware of that, but the question is: is it absolutely mandatory to refer to evolution in any biology game? That's the thing: I think mentioning evolution in the game would be completely out of context and wouldn't contribute anything. It's not a game about the origin of life: if it were, then I'd see sense in those accusations. But I find really, really questionable the idea that the lack of reference to evolution should mean anything nasty. If that is the case, well, then I guess I won't be able to tell anyone that I've caught a cold without mentioning that it has only happened due to millions of years of evolution.

Xanthir wrote:I don't think this is some grand conspiracy. That's retarded.


No one here spoke of conspiracies. The only conspiracy talk is in the blog post that was linked above: the guy concludes, with all authority in the world, that CellCraft is "a Creationist game". Is that paranoid enough?

Xanthir wrote:I also think that, despite that, it's a pretty fun game, and works well for its intended purpose - teaching people about cellular structures and how they work together in a living cell. For full effect, it just needs to be accompanied by an actual biology teacher able to connect the dots and fill in the gaps in the game's teaching.


Well, that is obvious, and I see no bigger naïvety than thinking that a game could ever be a good educational tool on its own, without assistance. Teachers are not obsolete.

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:39 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Xanthir wrote:Creationists are really, truly, trying to change the way science is taught so that more people will believe in their god.


I know.

Xanthir wrote:Creationists aren't a dime-a-dozen in academia, you know. You don't walk down the hallways of bio labs and just bump into creationists doing reputable biological research very often.


... yeah, I read it on the Internet and therefore it's true.

...are you trying to imply that creationists *are* common in biology academia?

Or are you just being an asshole?

Xanthir wrote:Then take a look at the game. It was led by creationists, contains plenty of true biological knowledge, but only a single reference to evolution in the entire thing (and that was written by one of the programmers, a physic student).


Yes, I am aware of that, but the question is: is it absolutely mandatory to refer to evolution in any biology game? That's the thing: I think mentioning evolution in the game would be completely out of context and wouldn't contribute anything. It's not a game about the origin of life: if it were, then I'd see sense in those accusations. But I find really, really questionable the idea that the lack of reference to evolution should mean anything nasty. If that is the case, well, then I guess I won't be able to tell anyone that I've caught a cold without mentioning that it has only happened due to millions of years of evolution.

In short, yes, if you're designing a game intended to teach biology, evolution should be mentioned. I cannot stress the primacy of evolution to biology enough. The game itself isn't about evolution - an earlier draft of the game included some direct evolution-based mechanics, but that was removed because it wasn't fun enough. But the game contains an entire encyclopedia section going into educational depth about the things mentioned in the game, which has many very good, teachable moments there where the origins of particular organelles could be mentioned, for example.

Xanthir wrote:I don't think this is some grand conspiracy. That's retarded.


No one here spoke of conspiracies. The only conspiracy talk is in the blog post that was linked above: the guy concludes, with all authority in the world, that CellCraft is "a Creationist game". Is that paranoid enough?

I'm not talking about the Pharyngula post. PZ Myers doesn't understand the appeal of games in the first place, and he's also very prone to hyperbole.

More importantly, *you* were never talking about the Pharyngula post either. You've been responding directly to *my* posts, wherein you've claimed that I'm pushing "Evo-McCarthyism", that I'm accusing the game of "brainwashing", and that I believe the game is spreading "Creationism, Communism, and SLAVERY to our Holy Nation".

Who's being paranoid again?
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby SirMustapha » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:29 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:More importantly, *you* were never talking about the Pharyngula post either. You've been responding directly to *my* posts, wherein you've claimed that I'm pushing "Evo-McCarthyism", that I'm accusing the game of "brainwashing", and that I believe the game is spreading "Creationism, Communism, and SLAVERY to our Holy Nation".


Wait... I have?

I only replied to you once before my last post, and that was only when you directly picked on me; and even then I was explicitly referring to the accusations of "subversion" and other things from the blog. I don't recall you calling the game "subversive" or concluding that "yep, it's a Creationist game". I never attributed those things to you.

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby 4=5 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:52 pm UTC

I stopped playing after a couple missions because I wanted to actually play as a cell and having each organelle be a little icon bugged me.

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby tastelikecoke » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:28 am UTC

Getting stuck at level 6 for a long time.

I don't even know what's happening, but it's either my ATP counter just goes down, or the cell membrane bursts.

About creationism, evolution would make the cell act independently, does it's own job without the pesky strategy. And to protect against viruses, cells usually needs to evolve. Evolution would make the game automatic. But this can remedied by DNA points.

however, the game does have no mention on mutation. Cells could have mutated their innards to be able to produce the variety of buttons you press. Like a CAGUGA mutated to enable you to form defensin. But no...

The possible creationism in the game is a good point.

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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:44 am UTC

No, I think all of that stuff is simply part of game design. There's no need to shove evolution into the *mechanics* of a game just because it's biology-related. If it makes things more fun, then sure, go crazy, but it's certainly not any sort of requirement.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Diadem » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:07 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:No, I think all of that stuff is simply part of game design. There's no need to shove evolution into the *mechanics* of a game just because it's biology-related. If it makes things more fun, then sure, go crazy, but it's certainly not any sort of requirement.

*sigh*
Noone is talking about the mechanics part of the game. We're talking about the encyclopedia part of the game.

Making an encyclopedia on cell biology and not mentioning evolution is like teaching people the 1st and 2nd of Newton's laws, but not the 3rd. What you're saying is technically correct, but the omissions are so huge that you won't transfer any semblence of understanding to your readers.
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Re: Biology flash game (Done!)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:30 am UTC

Dude, read the rest of the thread. You're preaching to the choir, buddy. I was responding specifically to tastelikecoke.
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