Sim Cell

Touch Press, Inc. 2017. iOS, requires 10.0 or later. Version 1.2.0. Free to download, additional levels by subscription, $4.99 per month, $7.99 complete game.
Gr 8 Up—In this app, users navigate a "Nanobot" inside human and tree cells. Through dynamic, colorful 3-D illustrations, students are able to visualize cell environments at a molecular level, learning the functions of different organelle as they set off on a series of missions.In the human cell, a virus is attacking a young patient. Viewers must control a miniscule robot injected directly into the one of the patient's cells and train it to fight off the viruses. While the game is engaging, it doesn't offer information on how the virus is harming the patient. Text describes the mission and viewers navigate around the cell, scanning different organelle to gather information. For example, viewers learn that "a lysosome is a virus-killer. It contains enzymes that dissolve viruses and unwanted cell parts." In the first few missions, players enter the cell, find and tow a lysosome to destroy the virus, and enter the nucleus to destroy viral DNA. One of the cell's mitochondrion has been severely damaged and must be repaired with proteins that the Nanobot helps create using mRNA retrieved from inside the nucleus. Once this mission has been completed, players use the mitochondrion to build ATP, which can be fired into the Golgi apparatus to build more lysosomes to defend the cell against the viruses.The game design has some limitations. Viewers return to the first level of the mission every time they open the app, and with no settings, it's unclear how to control sound and narration options. While many users will enjoy traveling through the 3-D cells, the science is not supported with enough context to help users understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. Still, students taking an advanced biology class might find this an interesting exercise in visualizing or educational gaming.
VERDICT Background knowledge is a prerequisite for this game that explores concepts in molecular biology.

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