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  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:10am

Fun and games can bring science to life

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2012, 12:00am

Studying biochemistry made me wonder about the relevance of studying science for a future career. After all, only a small percentage of people go on to become the scientists they set out to be, and it is a long and tough journey.

But that got me thinking about how life is so similar to the games that we all play. And scientists could be the biggest gamers of all.

When it comes to comparing gamers to scientists, the case is a compelling one.

To do well in a game, a player must test it using the tools at their disposal. What works and what doesn't? How much damage can an alien take before it dies?

Scientists have to deal with a bigger set of rules and environments, but their basic goal is the same: to understand how the world works, and then, potentially, exploit it for the benefit of mankind.

Then there is progression within the game. Scientists can't just buy a laboratory off the shelf and become scientists at a snap of the fingers. They go through years of being 'newbies', guided by veteran 'gamers' who coax them along with the promise of points, but take the gold. As they go up through the levels of tertiary education, they build their own teams, and stacks of gold and inventory with which they can tackle bigger and harder problems.

However, let's be realistic: studying science reaps fewer and less intense rewards than games which are designed to captivate and entertain right from the beginning.

Studying requires work. But sometimes it's just so hard to get into that state of mind, to focus and work towards a greater goal when distracted by so many things.

So, the next time you walk into the laboratory or need to get through something really boring, try superimposing your favourite game world over it. It takes imagination, but it'll spice up your day.

After all, looking at it from a different perspective, our job as emerging scientists is to play the biggest and most compelling game in the world!

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