The goals of ScienceAtHome are many, but the clearest one is to invite everybody inside the university, to have a closer look at what we do in here, and to invite you to help us figure out the stuff that fascinates us.
Some of us are physicists, mostly in the area of quantum physics, fascinated by the basic building blocks of nature, and by the way the laws of nature work when we get to those very smallest of particles. Some of us are psychologists, or cognitive scientists, intrigued by the way human mind organizes data, impressions and memories, and somehow transforms these into cognitive activity. Some of us are programmers, some of us graphic artists. Some of us are teachers, and some of us are passionate about researching the basic mechanics of how teaching works best.
And some of us are game developers. My name is Lars Kroll Kristensen, and I’m one of the last categories. My job, as a game designer, game developer, producer and project lead, is to facilitate the research efforts of the scientists by helping them build awesome games.
For me personally, going into this project was a great opportunity to put my skills as a game developer in the service of science: Not only do I get to make games for a living, but I actually also help real scientists build incredibly cool stuff, like quantum computers, and a playful way of learning. This was an opportunity that was impossible to pass up on.
When I got aboard, the Quantum Game (the old java version) had generated about 400.000 plays, over the course of 12 months. These were impressive numbers to follow. For various reasons, we decided to start over, building on the experiences from the original quantum game. A few months ago, we relaunched, with the new Quantum Dreams game (play it here) following up with Quantum Minds (more about that in a minute) and a few other prototypes, some of which are live now, some which aren’t.
The new games have managed to net over 100.000 solutions to the game problem we’re trying to solve, most of those solutions within the past few months. This means that we now have over 500.000 solutions! And that is something to celebrate. Each and every time you play our games, Quantum Dreams or Quantum Minds, or any of the other games whose name starts with “Quantum”, you help us solve real research problems, and that means for instance that you help us build a quantum computer. How cool is that?
Quantum Minds, one of our latest games, is especially interesting because it kills two birds with one stone: Jana Jarecki, the cognitive scientist responsible for the scientific content of the game, is using it to find out about how the human brain works when solving problems. On top of that, the problem people solve is also the same problem we are aiming to solve for the quantum computer group.
In the future, we expect to build many, many more games. Some of them will have an “Alpha” or “Beta” stamp on them. That means that these are games we’re testing out, to figure out if they appeal to you. This also means that they typically don’t collect scientific data, other than some analytics we use to find out if people enjoy the games. For all kinds of games, we always welcome feedback. Most of the games you can comment on the play page of the game: Please do so: We love feedback. Constructive criticism is wonderful because that helps us improve the games, and even if you don’t like a game, that is also useful info for us. Of course, if you tell us that you like the games, we’ll be happy.
I hope you’ll take a spin around our “play” page, have some fun with our games, and if you get curious about the science behind it all, I can recommend a visit to the Science section, which we are just starting to build up.