Nanocrafter: Playing a Game of Synthetic Biology
‘It’ is Nanocrafter, a project created by researchers and game developers at the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. They are the same team behind the citizen science project FoldIt.
The Nanocrafter game teaches users about basic DNA biochemistry and how to manipulate DNA reactions, eventually enabling the player to create logic circuits or mechanized structures. See their video. In the game, players organize colored puzzle pieces to react in specific ways. The behavior of the puzzle pieces mimics the principles of DNA nucleotide-nucleotide pairing, nucleotide chaining and double helix formation. For example, only certain puzzle pieces can pair up and pieces only form chains and double strands in a precise hierarchy of reactions. This might seem overwhelming but the game eases player into the rules, step by step.