A DNA SuperStar?

In my house I am the video game dunce. “It’s easy mom”, they cry, “Pleeeease just play with me for a while”. Then 5 minutes later, when we are on our last life, the request changes to a panicked “Drop Out! Drop Out!! DROP OUT!!!”

I appear to be incapable of using arrow keys and letter keys at the same time, or pressing “X” and “O” with one hand while using the joystick with the other. (Incidentally, I also cannot pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time). To compound that disability, I am also unable to think of something else (like my game strategy) while trying to remember to press the square then the circle, followed by the X. I am a loser.

Then, one day last summer I played Bejeweled while bored during a long flight. It passed the time and sucked me in. I can drag and match objects. Therefore, in Bejeweled, I am a star! I can score big! What is it that is so satisfying about that game? It seems inane, and yet it is so addicting. Once I scored 450,000 in Bejeweled Blitz—I was insanely pleased with myself. I played to waste time in waiting rooms, I played to relax last thing at night. I played until I found out that I had spent almost 100 hours of my life just on that game. I had to quit cold turkey. 100 hours mesmerized by flashing shapes on a screen. I had to stop.

So now I’m off Bejeweled and I am banned from more complex games like Lego Star Wars and Super Mario brothers. Maybe something like the DNA SuperStar Game could be my thing? In this game, you are challenged to quickly spot and delete contaminants while avoiding deleting pure DNA as it passes increasingly quickly across the screen, and then you have to quickly match bases on a DNA strand. It’s been a hit in the Promega Booth at recent meetings and is now available online as well. It’s pretty easy in theory, you have to press the right keys while paying attention to the passing symbols. The challenge is to get a high score and maybe get a top spot on the leaderboard. Top names and scores are published. With my hand-eye coordination history, I’m playing under an alias until I get good enough to reveal my identity.

Try it out! You won’t be last in the rankings, and who knows?–You might qualify for a surprise.

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Isobel Maciver

Isobel is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and of Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. She is a technical writer and editor, and is also manager of the Scientific Communications group at Promega. She enjoys writing about issues in science and communication.

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