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'POND PONG' and 'PAC-mecium' Games Run on Living Organisms

Most video games offer some sort of escape from reality, but researchers at Stanford University are now working to inject actual life back into the gaming ecosystem -- one single-celled organism at a time.

As NBC Bay Area reports, the scientists recently developed a series of games involving microscopic organisms, which players must move around various obstacle courses. Thus far, the team has created four so-called "biotic games": 'PAC-mecium,' 'Biotic Pinball,' 'POND PONG,' 'Ciliball,' and 'PolymerRace.' In each game, players must move the organisms around a game board, which is superimposed over a live feed of the creatures. 'PAC-mecium,' for example, requires players to navigate paramecia across a 'Pac-Man'-like board by manipulating an electric field.

These new games, researchers claim, offer obvious educational benefits, and have the potential to spawn a variety of unique experiments. "The applications we can envision so far are on the one hand educational, for people to learn about biology, but we are also thinking perhaps we could have people running real experiments as they play these games," researcher Ingmar Riedel-Kruse explained. "That is something to figure out for the future, what are good research problems which a lay person could really be involved in and make substantial contributions."

Tags: biology, biotech, biotic, education, experiment, games, gaming, pac-man, science, stanford, top, VideoGames