Thursday, April 23, 2009

Too Epic

Yesterday was epic. Too epic. I'm actually still reeling from the epic-ness.

I was pretty tired from getting only 5 hours of sleep between Saturday and Monday, and 4 hours of sleep between Monday and Tuesday. So, because I didn't have class on Wednesday, I decided to catch up on some sleep. Then I headed down to campus. I met up with my friend, AG-F. After lunch, it began.

Starting at 1pm, we began to crank out the remainder of our final paper/project. It was due at midnight. So, from 1pm until then we worked almost non-stop. I had 1.5 hours of office hours, and we took a break to grab dinner and ate while we worked. I must've written over 25 pages (double-spaced) yesterday.

When we started yesterday, I had written my half of the paper (about 10-12 pages, double-spaced) and AG-F had only written about 2-3 pages. My half still needed serious editing, which I accomplished by about 6pm. I had drafted several of the figures we needed. We had our project planned out, we just need to consolidate all our loose sheets and mental notes into writing.

9pm came and went. We were almost done with the paper, in the final stages of editing.

10pm came and went, the paper was done except for the bibliography. AG-F goes to the computer and creates the bibliography while I type up the summary and concept documents of our project.

11pm comes and goes, we're still working on it, ever closer to finishing.

11:40pm-ish comes, and we still needed one figure. AG-F took my student ID card and dashed to the other side of the building to use the scanner and upload our last figure.

11:55pm comes, and I'm uploading our documents to an email to the professor. AG-F runs back, out of breath, and I tell her that she can relax now - it was all going to be okay.

11:58pm comes, AG-F stares at the time on her cell phone, and I hit "Send." It was (essentially) done.

By the time everything we completely said and done, it was about 1am. We had wanted to get a drink to celebrate this feat, but since the bars and clubs tend to close at 2am here (and we had work the next day), we decided that we'll postpone that until this weekend.
What was this final paper and project? Well, that's also epic! Our paper was on the utilization of video games for genetics education. Games that currently feature genetics (e.g. SimLife, Spore, BioShock) are woefully inaccurate in their portrayal of genetics. Thus, we wanted to analyze the educational potential of video games, particular for science and specifically genetics.

Once we knew what our teaching goals and "game goals" were, we wanted to create the concept for a video game that centers on genetics as our project. We decided upon a MMORPG kind of game. You are a field agent of the government, and you work for the Federal Division of Genetics. Your mission is to investigate the suspicious activities of a massive biobanking and biotech company. This company is "morally gray" throughout the entire game.

The company is also the creator of the Platywi, an organism that's kind of like a cross between a platypus and a kiwi. Throughout the game, you determine the genetic inheritance patterns of various Platywi traits (e.g. Mendelian, codominance, incomplete dominance, continuous, X-linked, Y-linked, epistasis, etc) and map the traits to the Platywi chromosomes. You also discover a hidden message/password hidden in the Platywi genome.

Within this game we wanted to model various different kinds of inheritance patterns, some of which are directly modeled after human traits/genetic diseases. We wanted our game to be marketable to a diverse audience, rather than have it be a in-class video game. There are many references to biology and genetics, particularly in the way we named things. There are far more details that I'm not disclosing in this post, precisely because I don't want our idea to be ripped off by some random visitor to my blog. Of course, we were only able to come up with the rough and bare-boned concept for this game, but it was quite enjoyable nonetheless.

I'll leave you with a couple figures that I created for this final paper/project.
Platywi chromosome map

Platywi concept art


Anonymous said...

wow I really miss all the energy of working on projects like that

Anonymous said...

i want a playtwi. it looks adorable!

Anonymous said...

Aek, you never cease to amaze me. :)

Mike said...

You had me wondering if you were going to make it before the deadline. WOW! GREAT JOB!!!

Anonymous said...


"psst! hey kiwi! You've got... something hangin out your butt dude!" :P

What's with the australasian thing? Do you think we could do with some eugenics down here to improve our gene pool or something? Not good enough for you?

I do admit, combining a kiwi with an aussie does raise the gene pool of the aussie's significantly, but did you have to degrade us so much??

Sounds like a fantastic game, if a little geeky :P

Aek said...

g+t+s: I know, right?!

James: What to be amazed here? :P

Mike: Thanks!! ^_^

~kiwi: Hi kiwi! We decided that the platypus was cute. And the kiwi was cute. And together, they're ridiculously cute. Hence, the hybridization. Where's the degradation? I think the game idea is pretty sweet. :D