Mission Biotech, an educational, immersive 3D game featuring many hours of gameplay and challenges, is being offered free to educators as well as students interested in learning how scientists search and test for clues to identify a virus during a pandemic outbreak.
The game presents an immersive storyline that teaches middle-school students and above the laboratory protocols and the real-world concepts, procedures and tools of the biotechnology field. This free download is being announced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to support teachers and students as they adapt to new ways of learning during this challenging time.
“Mission Biotech is a great way to encourage careers in biotechnology,” said Randy Brown, Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) vice president and division manager of Virtual Heroes, which developed the game. “This game offers students a way to play, learn, and become a real hero of tomorrow.”
In the game, users play as part of a virtual team trying to stop the spread of dangerous pathogens, and the clock is ticking. The player is a new member of the National Laboratory for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. On this, their first mission, players need to learn laboratory protocol while also understanding the basic scientific concepts behind biotechnology processes.
Gameplay includes discovering and using high-tech, fully-functional laboratory equipment, and features more than 50 different inventory items and a wide range of clues to find and use. Players can collect up to 20 accomplishment badges and unlock mini-games; these games also reinforce the scientific concepts behind DNA extraction and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) processes. These processes are being used in real life today to test for pathogens such as the novel coronavirus.
“With schools closing across the nation, we want to do our part to leverage any educational opportunities we can,” Brown said. “This software is an opportunity for students everywhere to engage in immersive biotech learning content while gaining a real-world understanding of the challenges facing scientists today.”
Mission Biotech was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Florida, and developed on the Epic Games Unreal Engine. by the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. This educational outreach is being coordinated between ARA, the Serious Play Conference, and the National Center for Simulation, all in Orlando, Florida.