FA-16-Project 4: WEEK 1

The game i played this week is titled ” NOVA’s Evolution Lab”. The link for the game is : http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/labs/about-evolution-lab/


Nova Labs takes a very interesting approach on what, to me, seems to be a very challenging task. The developers decided to make the process of phylogenetics more accessible and intriguing by creating a simulator/puzzle based game. Phylogenetics, as described by NOVA LAB, is a “fancy name for the study of the evolutionary relationships among species”. The objective of the game is teaching its users how all life on earth is related through evolution. This task becomes easy through NOVA’S tree of life program. This game functions as a puzzle based simulator where users must create evolution trees by linking different species with different traits.

After creating an account, users are given a brief but informative lesson on Darwin’s theory, origins of evolution and several other highly related topics.  Interaction takes place when users drag different species to the center of the screen. A tree branch is then created between the species. Users must then drag traits that suit each species. Some species share traits so users must be cautious about the placement of each species. As users progress, the complexity of the tree is heightened. The first tree started with two species and while i did not complete the game, the last tree i tried had 6 species.

Due to its lack of story,  low appeal to mass, and a nonexistent character development feature, this game is geared towards those who have interest deeply rooted in evolution. It also lacks multiplayer functions but it does allow users to track their progress. This means that there is potential for multiplayer functionality if users are allowed to upload his or her’s progress to a leader board.

As aforementioned, i did not complete the game due to its complex nature. However, i did play enough to grasp the purpose and feel the games impact.  Phylogenetics seems to be a very concentrated subject but this game shed some light on its importance.


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About Robert O. Duncan

I'm an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at City University of New York, with joint appointments in Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience. I also have an appointment as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. My research interests include cognitive neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, glaucoma, neurodegenerative disorders, attention, learning, memory, educational technology, pedagogy, and developing games for education.

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