Making an online move for science
The EU-funded 'Disseminate the power of research through an on-line simulation of the scientific endeavour' (POR) project was therefore developed with the aim of raising public interest in science, particularly among youth, by means of a computer game. The POR game consisted of two parts: a long-term strategy research game, and a short-term hospital game. Within the research game, players entered as scientists, selected a specific research topic and worked at a research institution. Gamers shared responsibility in securing funding, skills and resources to perform their tasks, while managing their own energy and well-being. This gave players an inside look into the real world of scientific researchers. Completed research projects were published in virtual journals. The second part of the game took part in a hospital. In the real-time, three-dimensional (3D) environment, players had the opportunity to assume the role of medical doctors. The challenge of the game was to manage a doctor's daily life, overseeing the treatment of several patients with different diseases within a tight time frame. In both games, experience earned the players rewards, titles and new resources. A strong resource base was also provided to players, giving them up-to-date medical knowledge that could be used both online and in the real world. This included a virtual library, scientific picture gallery and a database of Nobel laureates. The game received more than 120 000 unique visitors on the site. Radio, press releases and various websites were all used to spread the word about POR, while users shared the game on their personal social media platforms. POR managed to tackle the image problem of scientists as perceived by today's youth by allowing players to encounter all the positive and interesting characteristics of a scientific career. The high level of engagement with the game ultimately made the POR project a success.