KELLY, D. A.; Zygote Games LLC: Using Games to Reinforce Facts and Concepts in the Biological Sciences

Ironically, although biology is filled with competitive events, “educational biology games” often reward the mastery of names and facts without addressing their underlying organizational framework. Zygote Games LLC is trying to move beyond this “trivia game” model for games based on the biological sciences. We use a strategy game model that reduces the amount of luck required to win the game, rewarding instead skill and mastery of the game’s conceptual framework. For example, in Bone Wars: The Game of Ruthless Paleontology, players build dinosaur skeletons with incomplete fossil material and revise them as better material appears. Although players refer to anatomical descriptions of dinosaur fossils during play, the iterative process that drives the game is a rough model of hypothesis testing. In Biota, players build ecosystems using the underlying concepts of a food web, succession, and environmental disturbances. In both games, players are exposed to a great deal of factual information, but the games are driven by understanding how to use the information in a larger conceptual framework rather than by simple recall.