The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) borrowed a page from Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace to make an educational video game about cell biology called Immune Attack for 7th-12th graders in the U.S.
According to FAS, American teens don't have the know-how to map a white blood cell system. Immune Attack gets them up to speed by providing them not only with text-dense screens about blood cells, but also with a full 3D game that incorporates elements of first-person shooters and Star Fox (only not in space). As a bonus, it also inspires computer studies students to make their own video games.
The objective in Immune Attack is to guide your nanomachine craft through a patient's bloodstream. You're sussing out a bacterial infection, which provides you plenty of nasty things to shoot at while navigating past healthy blood cells and other naturally-occurring grossness in the human body.
Dr. Melanie Ann Stegman — a member of FAS — will present her findings on the effectiveness the game has as a learning tool in a press conference tomorrow at the San Diego Convention Center. A press release sent out this morning quotes her as saying, "Basically, Immune Attack is cool. After playing the game, or even after just watching the trailer, high school programmers are extremely motivated to create video games of their own based on the premise of a cell-sized submarine called a Microbot."
All I can say is that if Immune Attack is a success, perhaps we're one step closer to this kind of edutainment.
You can get the details on that or download the game here.