Monday, May 6, 2013

Bio-Art: Mendelian Video Games.

There is still a fair amount of debate over whether video games are a proper art form or not. A fair amount of gamers are in favor of comparing video games to high art like Picasso or Monet.

Here's my stance on it: Video and computer games are interactive art. That many people instead of one usually work on them is irrelevant; most would consider movies art, and a lot of people work on those, too. For video games, you have writers, composers, and several different sorts of graphic designers. It just so happens that certain forms of art happen to be crack, and addiction of almost any sort has some sort of consequence.

So, what if somebody made a bio-art video game?

One of the first forays into this area was made by a contest under the name of "Make Something Unreal Live." Unreal is a development engine for PC games, so the title is not quite as mystical as it first sounds. This contest is yearly and open to all college students studying game design in Europe.

This year's theme? Mendelian genetics. For those of you not familiar with the term, Mendelian genetics is the inheritable stuff we all know and love. Specifically, Gregor Mendel traced a simple recessive trait in pea plants while at a monastery. The tracking of dominant and recessive traits has been common in biology ever since. Your dog is your dog precisely because of Mendelian genetics. It's an awesome idea to base a game off of.

Here's what the winning designs were titled:  "Loch Ness," "Polymorph," "Mendel's Farm," and "Beings." Without knowing much more, these sound pretty promising. I'm sure "Mendel's Farm" is not as dry as it sounds if it can compete with Nessie. Technically, these are computer games, but that's splitting hairs. (I am prepared for the backlash from this statement.)  It's still quite an awesome way into science into a medium that some deem trash.

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