Giant Genes! The development of an interactive game to engage audiences in genetics
- Scott Morgan, Atilla Randle, Rachel Coombs, Emma Yhnell
We describe the design, creation, and preliminary evaluation of a hands-on interactive game, “Giant Genes,” which was developed to explain the concept of genetics and the central dogma of gene expression to audiences at Cardiff University’s Brain Games. The Giant Genes game is a modified version of the traditional game “Jenga.” The game begins with a central tower of wooden blocks which are stacked to create a “deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) tower”. Players then pick amino acid cards which show the three nucleotides that they need to remove from the tower to create a corresponding amino acid. Taking turns in removing blocks from the tower, the player who has created the most amino acids by the time the tower falls wins. After initial positive reviews, we further piloted the game at events including during school visits and a patient interest day. The Giant Genes game is a simple hands-on interactive activity which has attracted diverse audiences. It acts as a fun, informal way of discussing complex genetic issues with the general public and has received positive feedback in preliminary evaluation. The preliminary data demonstrate proof-of-concept that the game can be used successfully with a range of audiences.