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meaningful play 2012 travel

Game Information

TitleDNA Roulette
Presenter(s)Carrie Heeter, J.D. Yaske, D. Barry Starr
SessionPlay the Past: Where Meaningful Play and Digital Humanities Meet to Talk
TimeThursday, October 18, 11:00a-12:00p
LocationGold A
FormatGame Exhibition
DescriptionDNA Roulette is a learning game, a current issues game, and a health game. Developed by game designers in the Michigan State University GEL Lab in collaboration with geneticists at Stanford University, DNA Roulette will be featured on the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation's web site, Understanding Genetics, beginning in September, 2012.

A Learning game

DNA Roulette takes a procedural rather than narrative approach to familiarizing players with the probabilistic nature of genomics. According to game theorist Ian Bogost, good games simulate how things work, an approach he calls "procedural rhetoric." They do so by constructing models that people can interact with.

In addition to specific details about diseases and traits, players to learn:

- genes are not destiny; knowing someone's genotype can improve the accuracy of predicting whether they will have certain traits or diseases, but rarely points to a certain outcome.

- most disease conditions and traits do not have a simple clear cut genetic cause

- environmental factors often play a larger role than genes in predicting traits and conditions.

A Current Issues game

- The FDA is considering restricting the public's right to see their own genome based on personal genetics testing without a doctor's prescription.

- Policy makers, health care professionals, and citizens have expressed concerns about potential negative impacts of direct to consumer DNA testing. Some concerns are justified, but many reflect an implicit "genes as destiny" misconception, an overestimation of what DTC genetic testing actually reveals. In fact, few diseases or conditions have solely genetic roots; most are the result of a complex interplay of multiple genes and an individual's environment.

- DNA Roulette contributes to this public dialog by demystifying what knowingone's own genome would and would not reveal.

- Additional traits and diseases will be added to future versions.

A Health game

- The game could help genetics counselors explain genetic testing to clients who need to understand their genetic test results. Medical school students, biology students, and the general public can play and learn.

- DNA Roulette conveys an intuitive sense of how genes and the environment together define risk.

- Unlike traditional roulette where the betting table and odds are always the same, the DNA Roulette game board is different for each disease or trait. Even within a disease, the odds are different depending on which of several possible genotypes is randomly selected by the game engine for that round.

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