Back in 2006, a friend of mine had the idea to create text-based games that explored biology. He’d design a simple ecosystem and players would collectively control the fate of one species. Together, they’d vote for how best the creature would evolve and adapt to corner its niche.
Despite the initial frame being unscientific, each subsequent progression required a lot of research from both the creator and participants; any person’s choice only won if they could convince a course would be advantageous. There’d always be the ecosystem to consider too, and how any change might ripple across. These games offer a way for students to actively participate in the concepts of biology. Many more of them may be interested in learning what a kidney does if it helps the survival of a species the class had been collectively invested in all semester.
It speaks to the success of these games that they’re still running 13 years after their inception. Multiple variants examine the anthropology of tribal dynamics, the politics of civilizations, and even the speculative fiction of space travel.