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The hack days

Gamify Your PhD took an innovative approach to communicating science: it brought together researchers and games developers to create new games that explored the latest developments in biomedicine. The project invited applications from biomedical and medical humanities PhD researchers and from game development companies, selecting six of each and pairing them into teams for the hack day. Wired took a look at the creation of the project.

Researchers who applied needed to submit one or more games ideas based on their area of work. To help show them what is possible in a game, and to inspire them, the Wellcome Trust commissioned a web app.

Developed by Mobile Pie and with editorial input from Wired.co.uk, it offered an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivations that lie behind successful game design. The web app also featured sample 16-bit mini-games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin-inspired 'survival of the fittest' pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game and a game based on Asch's work on conformity.

This Wellcome Trust blog post looks at the ideas around using games to communicate science.

The finalists selected from the many applicants to take part in the event were:

They all assembled in the Darwin room at the Wellcome Trust, laptops buzzing and ideas fizzing ready to start on the morning of 3 September 2012. Daniel Glaser, Head of Special Projects at the Wellcome Trust, introduced the hack days and opened the proceedings. This was followed by a presentation by Wellcome Images showing how their huge database could be used as a resource for the development period.

The hack phase ended at 15.00 on 4 September, when the participants presented back to the group and a panel of experts the results of the pizza-fuelled two days.

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