Phytoremediation as a Game

Phytoremediation is the direct use of living organisms such as plants for in situ removal, degradation, or containment of contaminants in soils, sludges, sediments, surface water, and groundwater. We created a game that allows the player to embody the genetically engineered plant to perform phytoremediation in the contaminated urban area. The goal of the game is to educate players on the idea of sustainability and environment management via biological processes. The player can explore the contaminated site, identify the molecular structure of the contaminants, and decide on what species of plant they want to deploy in order breakdown such contaminants. The characters in the game, their specific abilities are designed base on the scientific research in this area. On top of that, the game explores other functionality of the plant such as the ability to photosynthesize oxygen. This game exemplifies the use of biological process and the biological form of different plant species combining with gamification as a medium to create new narrative for game design.


Biological Background:

Phytoremediation utilizes the ability of plants to concentrate, degrade, or render harmless contaminants from the environment and to metabolize various molecules in their tissues. Hazardous heavy metals and organic pollutants are two major targets for phytoremediation. There are many species of plants such as sun flower, barley, or duckweeds that are capable of phytoremediation, which represent diverse processes that are useful in treating the environment: Phytosequestration – the reduction of the contaminants in soil by sequestering them into the vacuoles of root cells. Phytoextraction – the concentration of substances from the environment mediated by the plant. Phytostabilization – the reduction of the mobility of substances in the environment. Phytotransformation – the molecular modification of the substances as a direct result of plant metabolism (inactivation, degradation, immobilization). Phytostimulation – enhancement of soil microbial activity for the degradation of contaminants. Phytovolatilization – the removal of substances from soil or water into the air, and Rhizofiltration – the water filtering system through a mass of plant roots.


Gameplay and Narrative :

The game is set in the dystopian future where industrial waste had deteriorated the earth environment. Therefore, one mad scientist had genetically engineered special plants to perform phytoremediation against monstrous toxics chemicals that are attacking the city. During the game, the player plays as “sunflower,” the leader of the plant army that is capable of phytoremediation. The player must develop a strategy in deploying special plants to destroy toxics chemical in the city while protecting the house of the mad scientist from getting poisoned. The player must collect enough oxygen to start deploying a new plant. The game can end in two directions: one is the player win when the level of toxicity reach zero, which means all the toxic chemical have been destroyed, or the player lost because one or more monstrous chemicals reach the house of the mad scientist.


The best app award from Codeday Corvallis 2013