Collaborative Games for Bioinformatics Education

A simulation of a Basic Local Alignment Search Tool result for DNA samples in the game MAX5.

Project Overview: We are designing and researching collaborative educational games that incorporate bioinformatics and cyberinfrastructure (CI) concepts aimed at high school students. We are interested in the uptake of science and data science problem solving skills specifically among underrepresented populations in science and technology, and in better understanding the larger relationships between people, educational games, and infrastructural computational technologies. To this end, we have designed MAX5 a game where players take on roles of computing experts and scientists collecting and analyzing data to stop a deadly influenza outbreak. Collaboration and creative strategies are encouraged and integrated into the gameplay mechanics.

About the Game:  Max Five is a game based around a futuristic crime scene investigation scenario in which players solve clues and collect biological data from a top-secret research project that has gone awry.  The game integrates bioinformatic concepts and simulations of tools including BLAST and Jalview.

Further information about the game and our latest development updates can be found at .


The research team for this project has included Professor Cecilia Aragon, Dr. Suzanne Brainard, Jeanne Chowning, Daniel Perry, Dr. Mette Peters, Stephanie Cruz, and John Robinson.


Perry, D., Robinson, J., Cruz, S. J., Aragon C., Chowning, J. T., and Peters, M. Game design for bioinformatics & cyberinfrastructure learning: A parallel computing case study. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 26, 13 (2014), 2303-2315.  doi: 10.1002/cpe.3261

Perry, D., Lynch, A., Joshi, A., Hellman, K., Robinson, J.J., Oyadomari, A., Richtarik, M.  and Aragon, C.R. Diverse player experiences in the design of science games for bioinformatics. 1st Chilean Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (ChileCHI ’13), Temuco, Chile (2013) PDF

Perry, D., Aragon, C., Cruz, S., Peters, M., and Chowning, J.T. Human centered game design for bioinformatics and cyberinfrastructure learning. In Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE ’13), ACM (2013). PDF *Best Training, Education & Outreach Paper Award.