Novel approaches to age-old concerns are what scientific discovery are all about. Leave it to Nobel Media to devise a computer game -- The Blood Typing Game -- based on the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Karl Landsteiner for the discovery of human blood groups. The game, too, is a prize winner of sorts, having been awarded "Best Game" honors in 2012 by the Swedish Learning Awards.
The game was made possible by the AstraZeneca Nobel Medicine Initiative, a co-operation between AstraZeneca and Nobel Media. According to the Nobel Prize website, "the aim of the initiative is to increase the general public's understanding of and interest in the achievements of the Nobel Laureates within the fields of physiology or medicine and to further explain the benefits of the discoveries made." Furthermore, the AstraZeneca Nobel Medicine Initiative is devoted to creating a diverse and contemporary range of content - opening the door to education through gaming.
The Blood Typing Game is introduced on the Nobel website with the following challenge to transfusion students and professionals:
"What happens if you get a blood transfusion with the wrong blood type? Even though a patient's own blood type is the first choice for blood transfusions, it's not always available at the blood bank. Try to save some patients' lives and learn about human blood types."
The site also explains that the purpose of this educational game is "to learn the basics about human blood types and blood typing, as well as understanding one reason for its importance -- to be able to save lives performing safe blood transfusions. Another purpose is to offer a game experience that is both challenging and fun."
The game, which can be accessed through the website (or by clicking here) allows players to administer virtual blood transfusions to patients in an animated hospital setting. Through the course of the game a player will be able to identify:
- the different blood groups in the AB0 and Rh blood group systems
- antibodies and antigens occurring in the blood of different blood types
- how to find out to which blood type someone belongs
- who can receive blood from whom in a blood transfusion
- what happens if someone is given the wrong blood in a blood transfusion.
Game play goes something like this: Once a patient is received, a player must discover the patient's blood type before moving ahead with the transfusion. For example, players use a virtual syringe to sample blood and deposit it into three test tubes, each containing a different reagent with A, B or RH antibodies which attach to antigens on the patient's blood cells if they match. With some further online investigation, the player can accurately determine blood type.
Once typing is completed, the player must check to see how many bags of blood the patient requires, then select bags from all compatible blood types among all the available blood at the virtual blood bank. If the player gives a patient the wrong blood type, suffice it to say the patient will react in a highly visible way, thanks to the game's graphic artistry. In short, there can be fatal consequences for vulnerable online patients if the player's skills are not up to snuff.
In addition to providing a fun way to sharpen blood typing skills, the game clearly reinforces the importance of the 1930 Nobel Prize in Medicine, awarded to Karl Landsteiner of Vienna for his 1901 discovery of the ABO human blood groups. Later Landsteiner was also involved in identifying the RH blood group system.
According to biographical information on healio.com, Landsteiner published a paper that made the first mention of the isoagglutination of human blood in 1900, "proposing that the occurrence was linked with the uniqueness of an individual's blood as opposed to having a pathological cause. One year later, Landsteiner cross tested sera and red cells from scientists working in his lab, including his own. His findings revealed that blood from certain scientists caused the blood of others to clump, suggesting the existence of at least two antibody classes. Landsteiner promptly dubbed them anti-A and anti-B. Eventually, his valuable conclusions led to the identification of the four blood groups: A, B, O, and AB. Consequently, Landsteiner's discovery laid the groundwork for the first successful blood transfusions in 1907."
Being an out-of-the-box thinker, Landsteiner also suggested other uses for his findings -- for paternity cases and forensic crime-solving.
Nobel Media has continued that pushing-the-limits ingenuity with a game that proves there is real fun to be had in learning. Ready to give it a go? You just may find your own name on the on the Nobel site -- on the high scorer's list of players who have had the highest number of treated patients within the last 24 hours.
Valerie Neff Newitt is on staff at ADVANCE. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org .