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DIY: Mass Effect's Genophage

DIY: Mass Effect's Genophage

Mass Effect’s genophage is one of the few fictions in gaming that is easiest to consolidate with real science. That’s probably because we can already manipulate and engineer viruses that manipulate genetics within biological systems. In Mass effect, the genophage was a Salarian-engineered virus capable of sterilizing the entire Krogan population...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 10:58AM May 13, 2013


Nanotechnology as Portrayed in Video Games - The Crysis Nanosuit

Nanotechnology as Portrayed in Video Games - The Crysis Nanosuit

Nanotechnology offers unprecedented possibilities for progress -- defeating poverty, starvation, and disease, opening up outer space, and expanding human capacities. But it also brings unprecedented risks -- the spectre of devastating wars fought with far more powerful weapons of mass destruction. - Chris Phoenix, Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology....

[Read full analysis]      Posted 1:44AM February 20, 2013


Floody Hell: The real-life parasites that remind us of Master Chief’s terrifying foe.

Floody Hell: The real-life parasites that remind us of Master Chief’s terrifying foe.

With the recent release of Halo 4, players have once again been thrust into the space boots of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. Master Chief has been faced with a wide variety of enemies since the 2001 release of Halo: Combat Evolved that have bee both impressive and terrifying. The mere sight of a particular foe however...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:41AM February 3, 2013


Death and Resurrection in Borderlands: Breaking the 4th wall?

Death and Resurrection in Borderlands: Breaking the 4th wall?

You’re running out of ammo, the last medikit you saw was three towns behind, and that nice guy shooting at you just got a sniper to help him out. Without divine intervention and after that nice guy gets a lucky shot (and why wouldn’t he?), you (or what’s left of you) are probably headed to the nearest respawn point. And just like that, within the game, Pum! Your character appears out of nowhere!

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:41AM January 18, 2013


Heart of the Swarm: Insects may have had the Zerg figured out before Blizzard did.

Heart of the Swarm: Insects may have had the Zerg figured out before Blizzard did.

Starcraft 2 is serious business. Don’t believe me? Ask the people over at Reddit and Teamliquid. Starcraft is a founding father of eSports (along with CS and Quake), a cultural phenomenon in Korea, and a source of personal income for the gamer considering that SC2 pros can make over 300k per year. In a nutshell, Blizzard’s Starcraft tells the story of struggle among three alien races fighting for control over the galaxy.

[Read full analysis]      Posted 10:36PM October 16, 2012


Meet Scott Maxwell: Star Wars Fan. Gamer. And, Oh Yeah, He Drives a Rover on Mars.

Meet Scott Maxwell: Star Wars Fan. Gamer. And, Oh Yeah, He Drives a Rover on Mars.

Some people have cool jobs. And then there's Scott Maxwell, who has one of the best gigs on two planets. He's one of the people who drives the Curiosity Rover on Mars. How do you get that job? What's it like? And how does it compare to all the sci-fi and video game fantasies we've all had about this kind of thing? Maxwell explains everything in the following interview, conducted by our science-loving friends at the Thwacke! consulting group.

[Read full analysis]      Posted 1:36PM October 12, 2012


Immersion: Getting into the game

Immersion: Getting into the game

Text, as a means of conveying information, has a powerful ability to alter the reader's cognition to the extent that they (willingly or unwillingly) place themselves within a scene, and even self-identify as a character within that scene . What I'm referring to is the concept of immersion. Text on its own is obviously sufficient to provoke a sense of immersion (see, for example, every piece of immersive literature ever produced)...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 11:34PM October 7, 2012


The Evolution of Stars: Exploring the <i>fiction</i> behind Mass effect, Halo, and Starcraft 2

The Evolution of Stars: Exploring the fiction behind Mass effect, Halo, and Starcraft 2

Science fiction games are littered with dead and dying stars. Mass Effect has its supernova-blasted Mu Relay, eezo mines near neutron stars, and Adepts slinging miniature black holes around. In the Halo universe, artificially triggered supernovae are the ultimate weapon for exterminating Flood-infested systems. In Spore, you can use black holes as entrances to the galactic subway system of wormholes...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 6:13PM July 4, 2012


Fight or Flight: The Neuroscience of Survival Horror

Fight or Flight: The Neuroscience of Survival Horror

Fear is one of the most primitive instincts in humans. Although it has been particularly useful in keeping us alive in dangerous situations, it has also helped the entertainment industry capitalize on our sheer joy of being scared. The video game industry has done a good amount of scaring by taking advantage of these emotions and employing them in gameplay narrative and design...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 11:42AM June 26, 2012


Neuroscience in video games - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Neuroscience in video games - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

We have an intuitive curiosity about the narrow space between our ears. Two A few pounds of matter, most of which is water, within offers an incredible extent of plasticity, allowing a full range of personalities, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, all within a limited physical space. In studying neuroscience, it's difficult to get past the beauty and efficiency of the human brain...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:04AM May 24, 2012


Assassin's Creed: Animating the Animus

Assassin's Creed: Animating the Animus

When it comes to creating a rich storyline, Ubisoft's Assassins Creed (AC) has never fallen short in its ability to weave its plot with historical accuracy. One of Its major selling points that sets itself apart from others in the genre stems from the players' ability to explore both renaissance and medieval eras. In this respect, the game creates wonder as interesting as the history that created it...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 2:49PM Apr 2, 2012


How Evolution Defines Mass Effect's Aliens

How Evolution Defines Mass Effect's Aliens

In this IGN feature we explore the environment and evolutionary strategies of species on our world and extrapolate them onto the planets of Mass Effect's universe. More importantly we and underline how an evolutionary context for alien races contributed greatly to the plausibility of Mass Effect and its narrative...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:57AM Mar 28, 2012


Metal Gear Solid

Nanotechnology as Portrayed in Video Games - Part 2: Metal Gear Solid

The incredibly popular Metal Gear Solid 4 – Guns of the Patriots is a game which extensively employs nanomachines in a number of critical plot elements. In this game, an advanced battlefield control network named Sons of the Patriots monitors and enhances the performance of soldiers deployed in combat via nanomachines in their body. One such nanomachine device is Octo-camo, an in-game type of adaptive ....

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:57AM Mar 14, 2012


Researching for your games: Scientific black boxes in video game narrative

Researching for your games: Scientific black boxes in video game narrative

Over the years I have made it a habit to criticize and applaud the manner in which the video game industry researches science to enhance their fiction. More often than not, it fails with a miserable attempt to adopt a single concept ( DNA, gamma radiation, etc.) that serves as the sole cause for every problem or blessing that could ever afflict characters in a story. ...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 12:26AM Feb 11, 2012


Metal Gear Solid

Nanotechnology as Portrayed in Video Games - Part 1: Metal Gear Solid

Something big (or rather small) started at Caltech University on December 29th, 1959. A lecture was given at the American Physical Society meeting that inspired the conceptual beginnings of a new and fascinating field of study. Physicist Richard Feynman spoke for the first time about the direct manipulation of matter on the atomic scale....

[Read full analysis]      Posted 3:00PM Jan 25, 2012


Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed: Medicine in the medieval and renaissance eras

Touring the Osler library of the history of medicine on a cold Montreal morning, I couldn't help but think about one of my favorite game series, Assassin's Creed. As a scientist and history enthusiast, I find it fascinating to take a look back at the previous millennium and see how different our views were on science in general, and medicine in particular...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 10:00PM Jan 11, 2012


Bioshock

Scientific rationale behind Adam, Eve and the use of Plasmids

One of the central themes incorporated into both narrative and game mechanics in the Bioshock series is the use of Adam, Eve, and plasmids. Splicers went mad overdosing on them, civil dissent was fueled over the fight for it, and protagonists battled to survive using them. Surprisingly, unlike most video games, BioShock works legitimate science into the core of it's fantasy and gameplay through genetic self modification...

[Read full analysis]      Posted 1:00PM Dec 22, 2011