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Serious Games To Solve Science Mystery About Epidemics

Crystal Island: Lost Investigation, developed by North Carolina State University, was selected as finalist in the 2012 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge under the Business Category (please find also Serious Games Showcase & Challenge 2012 Awards To Be Announced Today). As a finalist, Crystal Island: Lost Investigation could also be experienced at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge pavilion (booth #3263) at the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) last week.

Crystal Island: Lost Investigation is a game-based learning environment for middle-grade science and literacy.

Crystal Island, with its 3D interface, fully immerses players in the role of an Intelligence Officer who is conducting a research to solve the science mystery about the epidemic that has struck a team of researchers stationed on a remote and mostly uninhabited tropical island.

Students solve a science mystery by investigating an outbreak on a remote island research station.


The diversity of “gathering clues” situations introduced by the game compels players to adopt a systemic approach to investigate the spreading illness and diagnose the disease by synthesizing  information gleaned from the in-game pedagogical agents: players solve the science mystery by gathering clues from sick patients, recovering scattered pieces of a previous investigator’s notes, viewing digital posters on microbiology concepts, reading complex informational books, running laboratory tests and recording diagnostic predictions.

Another merit of the game is giving players a large amount of freedom. The theory that student motivation will rise when the sense of freedom within a game increases is perfectly demonstrated.

Additional attribute of Crystal Island is to present recurring and effective embedded assessments within the context of an engaging interactive story-world. Players use critical thinking and decision-making skills as they work to solve authentic, meaningful problems.

Students test hypothesis about potential transmission sources in a virtual laboratory.