Press release

The Wellcome Trust invites researchers to gamify their PhDs

An innovative new way of communicating science research launches today with Gamify Your PhD, a project from the Wellcome Trust that brings together researchers and games developers to create new games exploring and explaining the latest developments in biomedicine.

The Trust is inviting researchers to share ideas for games based on their PhD work in biomedical science or the medical humanities, and small teams of games developers to turn these ideas into addictive, challenging and educational games. Those selected will partner at a two-day hack in which the games will be created. The best of these will receive funding to develop into a releasable game.

To help inspire ideas and give researchers a flavour of what's possible, a web app, developed by Mobile Pie, has been commissioned, offering an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivation that lie behind successful game design. The web app also features sample 16-bit mini games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin-inspired 'survival of the fittest' pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game and a game based on Asch's work on conformity.

Gamify Your PhD is part of a wider commitment by the Wellcome Trust to using games and gaming culture as a means of engaging people with science. A range of awards schemes is open to developers interested in creating innovative, entertaining and accessible games based on biomedicine and medical history.

Daniel Glaser, Head of Special Projects at the Wellcome Trust said: "The engaged researcher has lots to learn from gaming, and game design can benefit hugely from the latest scientific advances. That's why the Wellcome Trust is throwing its weight behind this innovative interaction.

"Today's brightest researchers understand that science does not take place in a vacuum and the best research can engage with the most popular culture. I'm very curious to find out what these teams will come up with."

Tomas Rawlings, the Wellcome Trust's gaming consultant, said: "Science and games are a natural fit: both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves in and achieving this by experiments such as trial and error. Gamify Your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas."

The deadline for applications from researchers and developers is 12 August, and the games hack will take place 3-4 September 2012. The resulting games will be made available online. 

The project's Twitter hashtag is #gamifyyourphd.

The Wellcome Trust will be present at the Develop games conference in Brighton on 11 July 2012.

About Mobile Pie

Mobile Pie is a development studio founded in 2008 that produces games and entertainment for mobile platforms. Based in the heart of Bristol, the team of 11 has received such notable accolades as Channel 4's New Mobile Game Developer of the Year, the Media Innovation Awards' Trophy 2008 and was nominated for two Develop Industry Excellence Awards 2011 (New Studio and Micro Studio).

About games development awards from the Wellcome Trust

Our grants offer support for games projects that engage an audience with biomedical science in an innovative, entertaining and accessible way, as part of our Broadcast media strategy.

Our Broadcast Development Awards offer up to £10 000 to a developer with an unsigned project idea, allowing them to develop it up to a state at which a publisher may fund the full title.

We also offer funds to create complete games too: the People Awards scheme offers up to £30 000 to small development studios to explore an aspect of biomedicine in an interactive or game form - particularly if the studio partners with a scientist or science institution.

Our Society Awards offer awards of more that £30 000 for developers, again especially if partnered with a scientist or science institution. This is intended for those who wish to explore and engage society at large with an issue in biomedical science.

Funded projects for any of these schemes can take the form of virtual engagement such as via social games, websites, mobiles technology, casual games, ARGs (augmented reality games) and the like, or be based around a physical location.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.