BioXFEL member and undergraduate researcher, Fiacre Kabayiza, has created a game to help educate school-aged students on the topic of XFEL science. Employing a simple, yet engaging, tap-based gameplay and a time-proven minimal 8-bit graphical art style, he delivers a game that introduces tweens and teens to XFELs, structure determination, and the structure and function of 3 different protein.
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XFEL: Crystal Blaster is an educational game that is designed to deliver the basics concepts of protein crystallography using a fun and current platform. Players will be given control of a high-powered X-ray source known as an X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL). As the player progresses through the game, they will learn of the importance of various proteins and how we can use their structures to learn more about the world around us.
Tap the screen to fire the X-ray beam at crystals as they fly by. Each successful hit produces a diffraction pattern that adds to your data set. After enough data has been collected, the protein structure and function will be revealed. There are three levels with different protein targets and increasing difficulties.
Our primary objective is to deliver information about XFEL protein structure determination in a fun and easy to understand format. Educational content is delivered at 2 key places. First, the scrolling introduction screen explains the basic premise of protein crystallography. Second, upon completion of each level, the player is rewarded with a rotating protein structure movie and short segment on the importance of the protein and the significance of studying this particular protein. The player should come away from this game with basic knowledge of: how scientists solve protein structures, the functions of these particular proteins, and why studying them is important. Studies on the effectiveness of this information delivery mechanism include a survey that assesses new knowledge acquisition, appropriateness of the language used, the gameplay mechanism and overall satisfaction levels.