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New online game launched ahead of ‘Brains’ exhibition

22 March 2012

Ahead of the opening of the new exhibition ‘Brains: The mind as matter’, Wellcome Collection has launched ‘Axon’, a free online game in which gamers explore the anatomy of the brain, clicking on protein targets to grow a neuron. 

'Axon' is set inside a fetal brain, modelling real biological phenomena found in neural development. The game sets players the task of making as many of the brain's 100 trillion connections as they can and challenges them to grow their neuron as long as possible: climbing through brain tissue, competing with rival neurons and scoring by making connections to distant regions of the brain. 

You can play the game now on the Wellcome Collection website. 'Axon' was developed by BAFTA-winning games studio Preloaded in an exciting collaboration with 'Brains' exhibition curator Marius Kwint and neuroscientist Richard Wingate.

Taking the anatomy of the brain as a starting point, plus a video showing the microscopic growth of neurons in a chicken's brain, the 'Axon' team combined scientific and games-making expertise to create a challenging, enjoyable and addictive game that has its roots in real science. A concise explanation of the science behind the game, the video and links to Wikipedia articles on neuroanatomy are included within the game.

Wellcome Collection website editor Danny Birchall said: "'Axon' follows the highly successful 'High Tea' game in Wellcome Collection's project of developing engaging and educational casual games for the general public that explore the connections between medicine, life and art. With its punchy biological aesthetic and unique gameplay in which you 'are' a neuron, we hope the game encourages players to see and understand the human brain in new and exciting ways."

The 'High Society' exhibition game ‘High Tea’, which explores the 19th-century British opium trade in China, has recorded well over three million plays.

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