The Wellcome Trust Invites Researchers to Gamify Their PhDs

While yesterday we highlighted the exciting App Idol competition (which, by the way, is live), we’ve gotten something equally interesting as well, in the realm of  games development. The Wellcome Trust has launched an initiative that will bring together researchers and game developers to create new games exploring and explaining the latest development in biomedicine.

This initiative, called “Gamify Your PhD” is led by Tomas Rawlings (of Auroch Digital/Red Wasp Design) and aims to invite researchers to share ideas for games based on their PhD work in biomedical science or the medical humanities, and small teams of games developers to turn these ideas into addictive, challenging and educational games.  Those selected will partner at a two day hack in which the games will be created. The best of these will receive funding to develop into a releasable game.

To help inspire ideas and give researchers a flavour of what’s possible, a web-app, developed by Mobile Pie, has been commissioned, offering an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivation that lie behind successful game design.  The web-app also features sample 16bit mini games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin inspired survival of the fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch’s work on conformity, and a Newton-targeting apple game.

Gamify your PhD is part of a wider commitment by the Wellcome Trust to using games and gaming culture as a means of engaging people with science.  A range of awards schemes is open to developers interested in creating innovative, entertaining and accessible games based around biomedicine and medical history.

Daniel Glaser, Head of Special Projects at the Wellcome Trust said: “The engaged researcher has lots to learn from gaming and game design can benefit hugely from the latest scientific advances. That’s why the Wellcome Trust is throwing its weight behind this innovative interaction. Today’s brightest researchers understand that science does not take place in a vacuum and the best research can engage with the most popular culture. I’m very curious to find out what these teams will come up with.”

Tomas Rawlings, the Wellcome Trust’s gaming consultant said: “Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas.”

The deadline for applications from researchers and developers is 12 August, and the games hack will take place between the 3-4 September 2012. The resulting games will be made available online.  All details about the scheme and the web-app guide to gaming can be found at The project’s twitter hashtag is #gamifyyourphd

The Wellcome Trust will be present at the Develop games conference in Brighton on 11 July 2012.

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