Biodiversity open card game, like Pokemon for science

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21 Responses to “Biodiversity open card game, like Pokemon for science”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love this, Incredible didactic tool.

  2. Sekino says:

    Sweet! I’ve been working on a kid’s book on endemic animals, so I have a truckload of fauna illustrations. I’m glad to share, so I’ve uploaded a few already. Too bad I don’t have any plants/bacteria illos… If I get some spare time, I’ll work on some (I don’t often get the occasion to draw micro-organisms; sounds fun!) :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    How likely is this to run afoul of the patent granted in 1997 to Wizards of the Coast for collectible trading card games?

  4. bersl2 says:

    This is so cute and awesome! I’ll look more closely tonight. *runs off smiling* :D

  5. snej says:

    This looks an awful lot like the commercial trading card game “XEKO“, which has been around for a few years (I’ve seen it advertised in the magazines my kids read.)

    XEKO has some pretty great artwork by Michel Gagné (who’s contributed to the Flight anthology series and did some work on Pixar’s “Ratatouille”.)

  6. Shazbot says:

    I’m an enormous fan of TCGs, so this is something I could see myself loving. However, crowdsourcing the rules seems like a bad idea– having a game designer (or a well-organized team of designers) seems essential for gameplay balance.

  7. Jonathan Badger says:

    Good luck, but it reminds me a lot of the attempt to create “educational comics” in decades past when comic books were the in thing among kids. Educators surely thought: “If kids can remember the origin stories of dozens of superheroes, why can’t we use the medium to teach them about the causes of the first world war?”. It didn’t work so well. Fantasy just is more appealing to youth (and a large part of adults as well) than is reality.

  8. Dave Ng says:

    Hey Shazbot, I totally agree. In fact the ideal scenario is to actually have that “well organized team of designers” step in to start working on a set of rules. Or better yet, have this team be the primary moderator of gaming ideas.

    As well, we’ve taken the notion that there isn’t necessarily only one set of “official” rules. Just like a normal deck of 52 playing cards, we’re hopeful that since the cards are just scientifically literate content holders, there are potentially a wide range of different ways of playing. These hopefully will get a chance to be presented on the website because they (1)show good potential, (2) because they been tested and have gotten good feedback, or (3) -as the case may be right now – because it’s the most polished set of rules available.

    For instance, I would love someone to come up with a compelling gameplay that works with very young children, or a gameplay that can really use the biological classifications (like an evolution sort of game?).

    Anyway, thanks for the comment! You should register on the forum!

  9. SamSam says:

    It sounds great, and I really like the use-generated content aspect of it.

    However, if I know anything about Humans, and how they perceive other species, I’m guessing that the number of species picked will be something like this: 90% of species drawn will be animals, of those, 90% will be vertebrae, of those, 90% will be mammals, of those 90% will be cute mammals.

    There was a number that I read, but haven’t verified, that has always surprised me greatly: If you measure the total biomass of the planet (measured by mass of carbon in living things), the total biomass is pretty roughly evenly split: 50% is single-celled organisms, and 50% is plants. When we think of biodiversity, however, all we think about are animals.

    • Jonathan Badger says:

      Yes — as a microbial ecologist I can confirm that both in biomass and genetic diversity, bacteria and archaea dwarf all other life forms. Unfortunately for visual depiction, their genetic diversity is mostly in their metabolic pathways, not their exterior appearance.

      • Anonymous says:

        Differentiation via metabolic pathways? Sounds like an idea for a add-on phylo card set just for microbial species? Looks like there could be ways to have some of that info on the card (or even in the image itself?)

        (That would be brilliant)

      • Anonymous says:

        So, here’s a question: right now there are more recognized species of beetles than bacteria. How much does this reflect our poor understanding of bacteria, and how much does this reflect their ability to spread to diverse habitats without as many specific adaptations?

        • Jonathan Badger says:

          Well, I’m not sure if it is really true that bacteria can spread to diverse habitats without as many specific adaptations, but it is true that that the notion of a bacterial species is complicated by the fact that bacteria can exchange genes from quite distantly related species — so a bacterial species isn’t the classic Mayr “biological species concept” of a population of interbreeding organisms that don’t breed outside the group.

          However, another reason for the greater number of recognized beetle species is that beetles have been classified for hundreds of years based on their exterior characteristics. While a few species of bacteria were recognized as distinct under the microscope, it has only been the last thirty years with the advent of sequencing methods that bacterial classification has really taken off.

      • muteboy says:

        The metaphor I heard was if you took all life on earth as a glass of beer, the bacteria (etc) would be the beer and everything else would be the froth.

        This game looks like a good project. Imagine the swapsies in the schoolyard with a million cards!

  10. Dave Ng says:

    Hey SamSam, we do need more microbes (and even plants, reptiles, insects, right now for that matter). So far, we only have one microbe, a virus – but it’s an awesome one.

  11. Tynam says:

    While shazbot has a point, crowdsourcing the playtesting can work extremely well. Ideally a small group of solid game designers will spot the potential in the idea and step forward. (If I wasn’t extremely deep in work right now, I’d grab the opportunity and design a variation myself.)

  12. Memory Harker says:

    I’m still hoping to play M. Atwood’s Extinctathon. ^_^

  13. TheRealSiliconDoc says:

    Ok, that’s so sweet.
    I wouldn’t have my children buying or trading the cards, however. My children would have cards with pictures of the real things, not some artistic rendition.
    Then, when my active, environmentally friendly children were out experiencing nature instead of hacking away in the poisonous and deadly man created unnatural environment at pokemon this or that, they would know for certain if they saw in person, any of the cards life.
    It’s ironic, that for the marketing game, profit, hiring artists who “love nature”, or to hook in pokemon image friendly kids, they have these FAKE artistic equivalents.
    Shows me just how far even the watchers, protectors, and fixers have slid on down the scale.
    Sorry for the downer folks, but that’s exactly what I think. What a S H A M E.

  14. TheRealSiliconDoc says:

    BTW –
    the little hottie here thought the racoon card was a DOG.
    lol
    See what I mean!

  15. muteboy says:

    BTW, does the game carry over the evolution aspect of Pokemon? Some very long chains there.

    • Dave Ng says:

      Hopefully someone will design just such a game! In fact, in the forums, discussion over inclusion of extinct species has come up here and there. And I think that sort of thing would make a really cool addition to the project.

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