College and university teachers of biology, genetics, cancer biology, and other related topics could use this game as part of their lessons, demonstrating ways to use games to further science, and to encourage their students to participate in the science research themselves. Much base instruction might be needed ahead of time, however, since it's a tool for using knowledge, not a tool for gaining knowledge.Continue reading Show less
The Cure is less a learning game and more an actual scientific tool that uses game mechanics to get real science done. Players help to identify genes that give information about the long-term survivability and prognosis for breast cancer patients. These genes can then be used to classify tumor samples into poor or good prognostic groups, "good" meaning that the patient will likely survive more than 10 years past diagnosis, "poor" meaning that without major intervention the patient is not likely to survive beyond 10 years.
There's a brief introductory section that gives way to the full mode where players "build a decision tree that predicts 10-year survival using gene expression values and clinical variables." The developers then use the information gleaned from gameplay to further breast cancer research.
While it's clear that players are expected to already have a clear and strong basis of knowledge in cancer biology, The Cure still gives very little instruction on how to play, or how to make the right choices. Rather than offering contextualized help, players are encouraged to ask their friends for help, or to search the Internet for answers. There's sparse if any explanation of what's being done or why, making it very hard to learn from mistakes and improve. Clicking randomly might result in a win, but no greater knowledge about the game or subject. This narrows the appeal significantly, limiting The Cure's usefulness to those who already understand complex proteins and advanced gene expression. There's no doubt it's another interesting example of the viability of gaming for research; however, it's not very useful for learners.
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