Pac-Man is looking different these days–he’s slimmed down, translucent, and has grown a mane of cilia. And he’s also alive. Meet Pac-Mecium, one of eight “biotic games” developed by Stanford physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his team. For the first time in gaming history, players directly “control” living organisms such as paramecia–a breakthrough that could lead to the baby boom of citizen scientists.
In a paper published in the journal Lab on a Chip, the researchers describe the games they made with names like “Biotic Pinball” and “POND PONG” and “Ciliaball,” in which humans interact with everything from a few molecules to colonies of cells. In the case of PAC-Mecium, a game board image is projected over a paramecium, and while the player sees the image via a live camera, the paramecium’s progress and score are accounted for by a microprocessor. As Stanford News reports:
The player attempts to control the paramecia using a controller that is much like a typical video game controller. In some games, such as PAC-mecium, the player controls the polarity of a mild electrical field applied across the fluid chamber, which influences the direction the paramecia move. In Biotic Pinball, the player injects occasional whiffs of a chemical into the fluid, causing the paramecia to swim one direction or another.
If you’re hankering for a day at the races but don’t live near a horse track, you can now play “PolymerRace,” in which you can place bets on how fast a machine can copy DNA. In it, the players are fed the output of a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, which copies DNA, and employing both chance and logic, they place their wagers on which line they think is the fastest.
Expletives and MIDI music rose from office cubicles this past Friday: Pac-Man had returned.
On May 21, Google replaced its usual blue, yellow, red, and green title with what the company calls a “doodle.” But unlike previous replacements, which have celebrated everything from Pi day to Norman Rockwell’s birthday, for Pac-Man’s special day (the 30th Anniversary of the game’s Japan release) Google pulled out the big guns, er, ghost-eaters.
This time, the doodle was an animated and playable version of the 1980s Namco video game, complete with our pie-shaped hero and his multicolored ghost foes: Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange).
But some kill-joys complain that Friday’s Pac-Man play hindered productivity, and set out to determine just how much money had been frittered away as employees avoided their work.
New York City has been attacked by all manner of monsters and alien invaders, but never before have its assailants been so, well, low-res.
A magnificent new video from Patrick Jean and One More Production shows an assault on the city that begins when a stream of pixels explode out of TV screen. Soon, the unwary streets of Manhattan are under attack from pixellated Space Invaders. Pac-Man runs amok in the subway stations, Tetris blocks slam down on skyscrapers, and Donkey Kong stands atop the Empire State Building.
For anyone whose childhood dreams were invaded by these crude villains, the video is pure nostalgic delight. Watch and enjoy.
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