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App review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2014
The Immune System Game

The Immune System Game

A nice but non-essential supplement to learning about infection

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
6–9 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Health & Wellness

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Pros: Easy to learn with a simple premise, and solid grounding in science.

Cons: It's very difficult to beat, instructions are sparse, and text is very small.

Bottom Line: It's worth students' time as an initial demonstration of key bacteria-fighting concepts, but the lack of substance and in-game instruction requires extension.

Teachers can use it to demonstrate how immune system cells fight infection in the human body. Students can review the additional educational material on the website and see the cells in action. Teachers might consider having students explore other games that touch on the same topic, such as Virulent or You Make Me Sick. Students could break down the key concepts each game covers, discuss how each game is or isn't successful, and then choose the concepts they're most interested in and design their own games. This could be done through basic written design documents and paper prototypes.

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Editor's Note: The Immune System Game is no longer available.

In The Immune System Game, or Immune System Defender, players must work quickly to fight infection by moving immune cells to the part of a blood vessel infected with bacteria before it spreads. At the first level, players fight infection with one type of immune cell, the granulocyte. In level two, they get several more types of cells to fight infection with. In addition to the cells that are "eating" the infection, players must send immune cells to parts of the body where they'll do the most good. It's very difficult to both keep the infection under control and send immune cells to other parts of the body. When students finish both levels, they can see their scores and the overall high scores. Unfortunately, the experience feels like more a demo than a fully realized game, since what students will be doing has little substance or variety. To make matters worse, graphics are outdated, text is small and difficult to read, and bugs (technical errors) occasionally keep it from working properly.

It demonstrates how immune cells fight infection, and the website provides useful resources that teach kids how the immune system works to protect the body. Some resources are accessible from within the game, and students can click immune cells to learn about them. As for gameplay, basic instructions are given, but no help is available to let students know how to improve or what to do if they're stuck. It uses actual immune system vocabulary, so students can pick up quite a bit if they make the effort.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The concept is quite interesting, but implementation is lackluster and outdated, and students might lose interest as the infection spreads faster than they can fight it.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

There's good demonstration of the concepts, but they're not reinforced or elaborated effectively. It'll require outside supplementation.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Includes basics for how to play, but lacks help when students get stuck. Resource materials aren't easily referenced while playing.


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