Sophisticated JRPG-Like Game Teaches Students Cloning, Genetics And Forensics

Science is expensive. Well, not the kind where you stick nails into lemons and make fruit batteries, but I'm sure all that genetics-related boffining requires a fair chunk of change. Imagine teaching the practical side of this stuff? Can't be cheap either. That's where Labster steps in — a virtual lab built in Unity that uses complex simulations in a delicious game wrapper to educate, without the need for pricey hardware.

Like something right out of an Ace Attorney game, students can solve individual test cases using real-world science and tools. While most don't sound particularly exciting (yeast fermentation, yeah!) there is one that tasks players to figure out a murder using forensics.

As you can see from the video and the screenshots below, you interact with objects in the scene much like a point-and-click adventure. You even have an anime-styled virtual assistant.

Unfortunately, given the heavy focus as a serious education tool, one to be marketed to universities and similar institutions, it isn't available for regular consumption. The pricing scheme is subscription-based, after which cases can be bought piecemeal to suit certain curriculums.

Going by this interview with Labster CTO Michael Bodekaer on TechCrunch, the focus appears to be on iPad, but he says it could be deployed on "Androids, Mac, PC [and] all web browsers". The game already has a customer in Stanford University (among others) and has been "tested by more than 10,000" over the last 12 months.

Labster Introduction Video [YouTube, via TechCrunch]


    I wouldn't exactly call it a "JRPG-like" game. It's more like a point and click adventure game, or something in the vein of Myst, or maybe even a more interesting version of Heavy Rain. This time though, the puzzles and knowledge required is heavily based in reality rather than the usual contrived scenarios and puzzles for puzzle's sake.

    I just wish it was a little more accessible. I'd love to play a forensics based game that was more grounded in reality.

      Hey GC,
      I agree, it's not really a JRPG, and more a point and click. I know it quite well since I'm the person in charge for the graphics of Labster : P

      As you mention, it requires some degree of pre-existing knowledge, but truth is, you can actually refer to a quite accessible wiki to help you solve the case. The reason of this is basically the fact that Labster is born as a fun way to prepare students before they actually enter a real lab ans start messing around.
      Me, I learned a lot of interesting stuff just by playing with it, and I'm no genius at all when it comes to science, so I can confirm it is possible to use it even with basic knowledge of biology.

      About being grounded in reality, all the actual Labster cases are probably more "real" than any CSI-like game out there, in the sense that they are more likely to be stuff that a biologist has to deal with in its daily job. Forensics, on the other hand, is often related to criminal cases -> police involved -> investigations -> cool guys -> gruesome details, and if it all fist somebody eventually gets shot :D ..I would say it's not about reality, but about having a thrilling story development.

      Indeed, it will be a wonderfull achievement for Labster to be totally accessible to anyone as a learning tool, and what we need most to get fatsre to that day is feedback like yours, so, thank you!

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