ScienceOnline2013 has ended
Conversation, Community, & Connections at the intersection of Science & the Web
Friday, February 1 • 12:00pm - 12:15pm
Blitz: Games for Science/Education

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

Immune Defense.  Buy cells.  Choose their proteins.  Fight pathogens.  Save the day.


Funded by the National Science Foundation, Immune Attack was released in 2008 by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Learning Technologies Program.  Immune Attack is a three-dimensional, third-person shooter style video game designed to teach immunology.  Immune Attack presents the molecular biology of cellular processes called transmigration, chemotaxis and phagocytosis.  Players receive instruction from “scientist advisors” and shoot the correct proteins to allow each step of the cellular processes to proceed.  I have found that students who play Immune Attack learn some cell biology and immunology very well (manuscript in preparation.)  However, the player does not engage in any experimentation or strategic thinking related to the science.  The player cannot choose to activate a different protein, for example.  In game development terms, the learning in Immune Attack is not integrated into the game mechanic.  With evaluation data in hand and funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, I set out to make a sequel to Immune Attack.  I wanted players to experiment and explore, I wanted cell biology integrated into the core game mechanics, with the random nature of molecular interactions providing the feeling for the game.  Finally, I wanted a strong, simple mechanic throughout the game.  A strong mechanic would tie the game together, giving the player the feeling that they know what to do, encouraging exploration and discovery, instead of waiting for instructions.  My game developed into a cross between a tower defense game and a real time strategy game.  Inspired by Desktop Tower Defense, Plants vs. Zombies and Civilization, I knew we could include a lot of scientific detail and still create a really fun game. 


After months of development with Cosmocyte, LLC. and play testing at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, DC, our BETA version is ready today, February 1, 2013.    (Free BETA version for PC and Mac, web based or download, not tablets, yet.)



Designed for 14-16 year old students, created by a biochemist, drawn by a medical illustrator, everyone will enjoy this excursion into the cellular and molecular world of your own immune system.  Welcome to Immune Defense


Scientists, we are holding a contest for images for the player’s Encyclopedia, see www.FAS.org/blog/learningtech to learn how to submit your microscopy or schematic. 

Teachers, we are evaluating in classrooms please see www.MICDL.org for more information. 

Everyone, please join us in supporting popular science in another way, though video games: www.ScienceGameCenter.org is our site where teachers can find good games You can help by playing them and reviewing their science content and teaching effectiveness.   



Melanie Stegman, Ph.D. is a biochemist who now makes video games.  Funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Entertainment Software Association, Dr. Stegman is the Director of Learning Technologies at the Federation of American Scientists.  Science and the study of the natural world is the best game ever created and she intends to convince you.   


Melanie Stegman

Federation of American Scientists, Federation of American Scientists
Melanie A. Stegman, Ph.D., is the director of the Learning Technologies Program at the Federation of American Scientists. The program focuses on the innovative use of technology to present molecular science to students and the public. Convinced that cellular biology is the greatest... Read More →

Friday February 1, 2013 12:00pm - 12:15pm
Room 6

Attendees (0)