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  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose
    2. General Features of the Game
    3. Basic Game Procedure and Strategy
    4. Programmer Comments
  2. Game Play Screens and Controls
    1. Entry Screen
      1. Help Page
      2. Frequently Asked Questions
      3. Credits
      4. Player Check In
      5. Teacher Initialization Input Form
      6. Student Input Form
      7. Learn about the Mystery
    2. Teacher Initialization Input Form
    3. The Mystery
      1. The Mystery!
      2. Solve the Mystery!
    4. Main Laboratory Screen
      1. Blood Typing Materials
      2. Centrifuge
      3. PCR
      4. DNA Fingerprinting Electrophoresis Unit
      5. Help Page
      6. Scientific Procedures Manual
      7. Modules
        1. Blood Typing
        2. DNA Isolation
        3. DNA Gender Typing
        4. RFLP DNA Fingerprinting
      8. Budget
      9. Suspect List
      10. Mystery Solved! (Exit)
    5. Modules
      1. Budget
      2. Suspect List
    6. Result Identification Screen
  3. Game Results Screen
    1. Mystery Solved Screen
      1. Responsible Individual
      2. Solve the Mystery!
    2. Final Result
      1. Correct Identification
      2. Incorrect Identification
      3. Final Result Screen
      4. Teacher Initialization Input Form
  4. Hardware and Software Considerations
    1. Platform
    2. Browser
    3. Monitor and Display Settings

     


     

  5. Introduction

    1. Purpose

      The iDNAfication game is an interactive, Web-based program that is designed as a teaching aid for high school students (course, subject matter, i.e., Forensics). The intent of the game is to challenge the student/player to perform an identification task of some urgency using biology/forensics lab techniques. The player will determine the responsible individual from a random suspect list by using these analytical techniques; including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA blood typing.

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    2. General Features of the Game

      During the game, the player is presented with a series of screens or pages which:

      1. Establish player identification;
      2. Inform the player about general features of the precipitating incident and the nature of the sample provided for examination;
      3. Provide the player with a budget from which test costs and penalties will be deducted;
      4. Enable the player to pick the techniques and steps to be performed in the correct order on a given turn;
      5. Present the player with a video clip of procedures being performed;
      6. Present the player with a written interpretation for each test result; and
      7. Allow for identification of the responsible individual based upon test interpretation.

      Various controls are provided for player access to an online procedure manual that contains descriptions of the tests and techniques used for identification during the game.

      The game entry screen has a link for teachers to customize the game for classroom use and input their students into the game. Those teachers that wish to customize the game should contact SWBIC ([email protected]), as this option is password protected. Incorporation of students into the game ensures that the list of suspects and the responsible individual are students from the class. Some technique modules can also be simplified for instances when classroom time is limited.

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    3. Basic Game Procedures and Strategy

      Upon receiving a blood sample, the player performs the following tests in this order: blood typing, DNA isolation, gender typing, and DNA fingerprinting (all details regarding the specific procedures for each test can be found in the procedure manual).

      As results from the tests become available, an interpretation is provided for the player to use in the elimination of suspects. Suspects are eliminated by checking them off of the suspect list, available for the player to view in each module.

      The test results at the end of a module will lead to a significant number of eliminated suspects. The final module (DNA fingerprinting) will definitively point to the responsible individual. The player should then (at the main laboratory screen) select "Mystery Solved!" to identify the responsible individual. If the player has identified the responsible individual correctly, they will receive a final report (printable) that contains information about the player's game and a comparison to an optimal game. If the identification is incorrect, the player will have the choice to start the game over with the same responsible individual (still unknown), or to go on to a final report.

      Various costs are deducted from the player's initial budget during the game. The price of performing each test is deducted when it is performed. The price of each test is multiplied by the number of total (remaining) suspects. The player is penalized if he/she must perform the test again (i.e., if the wrong steps are chosen).

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    4. Programmer Comments

      iDNAfication is best viewed with Internet Explorer version 4.0 or later. If viewed with Netscape version 3.0 or later or Netscape Communicator the animation may unexpectedly stop, if this happens click on the "repeat" button to view the entire animation.

      When playing the game, please allow for the result interpretation page for each module to fully download before returning to the main lab page. If the player does not allow for the page to fully load, the game may not recognize that the module has been completed.

      If playing with Internet Explorer the player may be asked to download "Microsoft Vitural Machne" in order to play the game. If the player does not do so, they will not be able to view the Java applications within the game. Downloading this software will not cause problems to your systerm and is required to view any Java applications while using Internet Explorer.

      When customizing a game, the teacher may choose to not perform modules. If the teacher chooses this option for their students' customized game, the students need not know the steps for that specific module; however, the students must hit "repeat" within the module to view the animation of the steps.

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  6. Game Play Screens and Controls

    1. Entry Screen

      When the player first invokes the iDNAfication game, an entry screen is displayed. This screen contains links to various documents regarding the game and game play. Actual game play begins when the player clicks on the "Learn the Mystery" button on the entry page.

      1. Help Page

        Players of any skill level are entitled to consult the iDNAfication help guide (this document) without penalty. Access to this document is obtained by clicking on the help page link or the "help page" graphic near the telephone in the main laboratory.

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      2. Frequently Asked Questions

        Answers and information regarding the most frequently asked questions by players of iDNAfication.

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      3. Credits

        A link that lists the multiple individuals associated with the concept, development, and testing of this package.

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      4. Player Check In

        The player has the option to play the game with their name. If the player does not provide a name, one will be generated for them. If the player wishes to use their name, simply input their name in the appropriate box.

        Students playing with a number provided by their teacher must also enter their name. This is necessary for their teacher to know that they played the game, as well as how they performed.

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      5. Teacher Initialization Input Form

        The teacher initialization input allows a teacher to customize the game and incorporate students into the game suspect list.

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      6. Student Input Form

        Students playing an in-class activity, or for a classroom assignment, should be provided with a string of numbers and letters from their instructor. The student should enter this string of characters into the student input box. Doing this ensures that the student plays the game as specified by their instructor.

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      7. Learn about the Mystery

        After the player has entered his/her name and student initialization number (if applicable), the "Learn about the Mystery" button is selected to begin playing the game. The player is then taken to "The Mystery" to learn about the precipitating incident and the nature of the sample left behind.

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    2. Teacher Initialization Input Form

      The teacher initialization input allows a teacher to customize the game and incorporate students into the game suspect list. After contacting SWBIC ([email protected]) and receiving the password for teacher initialization input, the teacher may input information regarding students and game criteria. That is, the teacher may choose which modules the students must perform by procedure selection. The teacher may also select modules that will be performed without procedure selection.

      When teacher initialization is complete, the teacher is provided with a generated string of characters, specific to the teacher, for the students to input into the student input box. These characters will be both numbers and letters, and will be the same for each student. This number should be given to the students to input when they are ready to begin playing the game. The number is entered into the student input box. The student must also enter his/her name into the name field in order for the teacher to verify the student's proficiency. When both the number and the student's name have been entered, the "Learn the Mystery!" button is selected to begin playing the game.

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    3. The Mystery

      1. The Mystery!

        The Mystery! is a brief narrative of the precipitating incident with information regarding the nature of the sample left behind. The narrative is non-gender specific and therefore does not provide any clues as to the gender of the suspect. The final sentence of the narrative asks the player for help in determining the responsible individual, and also provides the player with a spending amount that he or she must not exceed while playing the game.

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      2. Solve the Mystery!

        After the player has read the mystery and determined the nature of the sample left behind, the "Solve the Mystery!" button is selected to begin playing the game and the player is taken to the main laboratory screen.

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    4. Main Laboratory Screen

      1. Blood Typing Materials

        The blood typing materials are used to perform the blood typing procedure and this section of the lab image can be selected to access the blood typing module.

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      2. Centrifuge

        A centrifuge is used in DNA isolation. The centrifuge in the main lab image can be selected to enter the DNA Isolation module.

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      3. PCR

        The PCR machine is used for gender typing procedures and can be selected to enter the DNA Gender Typing module..

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      4. DNA Fingerprinting Electrophoresis Unit

        The DNA Fingerprinting Electrophoresis unit in the main lab image can be selected to enter the RFLP DNA Fingerprinting module.

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      5. Help Page

        Players of any skill level are entitled to consult the iDNAfication help guide (this document) without penalty. Access to this document is obtained by clicking on the help page link or the "help page" graphic near the telephone in the main laboratory.

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      6. Scientific Procedures Manual

        Less experienced players may need help in deciding the order in which to perform the analysis procedures and the order in which the steps for each procedure are performed. A procedures manual is provided for this purpose, and is accessed by clicking on the "Scientific Procedures Manual" link in the main laboratory graphic.

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      7. Modules

        The procedures presented in this game have been somewhat simplified from those that would be used in an actual forensics laboratory setting. This is due to the novice status of our target audience for the game. The procedures are presented in enough detail to allow students to understand the principles underlying the processes without confusing them with a great amount of detail. The majority of the details that have not been presented include chemical and buffer names, volumes and some steps that are repeated to ensure sample purity. We do not intend to imply that these steps and information are not important, but that they will have more meaning to persons learning the techniques after the basic principles are understood.

        It should also be understood that the procedures used in the game are not the only possible techniques to use to answer the questions posed by the game. They were chosen as basic and representative methods used to answer the given types of questions.

        1. Blood Typing

          The blood typing procedure is used to determine the blood type of each suspect. This procedure must be performed first as it is the least expensive and should be performed with the greatest number of suspects. For additional information regarding the procedure and steps, refer to the scientific procedures manual. The module may be accessed by clicking on the "Blood Typing" link or the blood typing materials image in the main laboratory graphic.

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        2. DNA Isolation

          The DNA isolation procedure is used to isolate DNA for manipulation and amplification. It should be performed second in order to isolate DNA for future analysis. For additional information regarding the procedure and steps, refer to the scientific procedures manual. The module may be accessed by clicking on the "DNA Isolation" link or the centrifuge in the main laboratory graphic.

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        3. DNA Gender Typing

          This is a PCR based procedure designed to determine the gender of the person responsible for the mystery and each suspect. The test is performed on all suspects because in real life situations, these tests are performed blind in the lab with each sample identified only by a number. This allows for better sample tracking and helps prevent sample tampering or prejudice. This procedure determines gender by amplifying a DNA sequence found only on the Y chromosome. For additional information regarding the procedure and steps, refer to the scientific procedures manual. The module may be accessed by clicking the "DNA Gender Typing" link or the PCR machine in the main laboratory graphic.

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        4. RFLP DNA Fingerprinting

          This procedure should be performed last because it is the most expensive and should therefore be performed on the least number of suspects. This procedure is based on restriction digest analysis of a PCR amplified region of the human mitochondrial genome. This analysis will provide a distinct pattern of bands on an agarose gel for each person analyzed and will identify the responsible individual from a small group of suspects. For additional information regarding the procedure and steps, refer to the scientific procedures manual. The module may be accessed by clicking the "RFLP DNA Fingerprinting" link or the DNA Fingerprinting Electrophoresis unit image in the main laboratory graphic.

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      8. Budget

        Each player is provided with a budget at the beginning of the game in the final sentence of the mystery. This amount is generated by the game, based on the amount of the tests and the multiple times that each test should be performed. As a test is performed, the amount of the test is multiplied by the number of suspects and deducted from the player's overall budget.

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      9. Suspect List

        After the results to each test have been provided, the player uses the information to eliminate suspects from the suspect list.

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      10. Mystery Solved (Exit)

        Upon completion of the final module (DNA Fingerprinting) only one suspect will remain, identifying him/her as the responsible individual. When the player has one suspect remaining he/she may select the "Mystery Solved!" link or use the "Exit" door to identify the responsible individual.

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    5. Modules

      Once a module has been selected, the player is responsible for identifying the correct order of the steps to be performed for completion of the module. All modules must be performed before identification of the responsible individual, unless otherwise specified by a teacher when utilizing the teacher initialization form. In this situation, the module must be selected but it will run as a demo for the student.

      In each module the steps for each procedure are listed in random order in the top list. To select a step, you simply double-click on it. When a step has been selected it appears in the bottom list. The order in which the steps are selected is the order that they will be performed. To change the order of the steps simply double-click on the step in the bottom list to move it back to the top and reselect the order. When all steps have been selected, click the "perform" button to view each step.

      After the "perform" button has been clicked, the player will see a series of animations depicting the procedures selected. After each step is completed, the player must click the "continue" button to the view the next step. When all the steps have been viewed the "continue" button is selected to view the game result obtained from the procedures performed.

      If the steps for each module are selected in the incorrect order, the animation will cease at the incorrect step. If this occurs, the player is returned to the main screen for the module. The player must once again select the steps in the order they are to be performed.

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      1. Budget

        Each player is provided with a budget at the beginning of the game in the final sentence of the mystery. This amount is generated by the game, based on the amount of the tests and the multiple times that each test should be performed. As a test is performed, the amount of the test is multiplied by the number of suspects and deducted from the player's overall budget.

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      2. Suspect List

        After the results to each test have been provided, the player uses the information to eliminate suspects from the suspect list. Suspects are eliminated by highlighting the suspect's name, and then selecting "update list" when the player has eliminated all the appropriate suspects. The suspects who have been eliminated are shown in the bottom list.

        The method for selecting a single suspect is platform-independent: simply scroll the window until the appropriate selection is visible and then left-click it with the mouse so that it is highlighted. Left clicking on the highlighted selection will de-select it if the player so desires.

        The method for selecting multiple suspects is platform-dependent. On a Windows platform, first depress and hold down the CTRL key and then left-click each desired selection. This method is recommended for non-adjacent selections. If a contiguous group of selections is desired, the user may hold down the SHIFT key instead of the CTRL key. While holding the SHIFT key down in this mode, the first selection in the group is left-clicked; then the LAST selection is left-clicked to select the entire block of suspects, which is then highlighted.

        To select multiple contiguous or separated suspects on a Macintosh, press and hold down the COMMAND (APPLE) key while clicking on the desired  suspects.

        On UNIX-like (e.g. Linux, FreeBSD) system browsers, the user need only left-click on each desired selection (contiguous or not) to select or de-select it. Neither the CTRL nor the SHIFT keys are to be depressed during the selection process.

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    6. Result Identification Screen

      After the steps have been selected and performed, an interpretation of the result is provided. The interpretation is provided for the player to use in the elimination of suspects. Suspects are eliminated by highlighting the suspect's name, and then selecting "update list" when the player has eliminated all the appropriate suspects. The test interpretation at the end of each module will lead to a significant number of eliminated suspects.

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  7. Game Results Screen

    1. Mystery Solved Screen

      1. Responsible Individual

        After the final module has been interpreted only one suspect will remain, the player may then click on the "Mystery Solved!" link on the main laboratory screen and proceed to the "Mystery Solved!" identification screen. On that screen is a pull-down window list that is accessed by clicking on the button on the right side of the window. The responsible individual may then be highlighted and selected by clicking on the corresponding name in the list.

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      2. Solve the Mystery!

        When the player is certain that the correct responsible individual has been selected, he or she may click on the "Solve the Mystery!" button to register the choice and proceed to one of the game result screens.

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    2. Final Result

      1. Correct Identification

        If the player correctly identifies the responsible individual, he or she is presented with the correct identification screen and a conclusion to the mystery. The player may then click on the "view final report" button to examine the final budget results and the optimal test series.

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      2. Incorrect Identification

        Players who do not correctly identify the responsible individual will have the choice to start the game over with the same responsible individual (still unknown), or to go on to a final report.

      3. Final Result Screen

        The final result screen is a final report (printable) that contains information about the player's game and a comparison to an optimal game.

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      4. Teacher Initialization Input Form

        The teacher initialization input allows a teacher to customize the game and incorporate students into the game suspect list. This option may be accessed at the game entry screen or the final report page.

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  8. Hardware and Software Considerations

    1. Platform

      iDNAfication is platform independent. It has been tested on Windows 95 & 98, ME, XP, Linux, and FreeBSD PC's running Netscape and Internet Explorer web browsers, and Macintosh's running the Netscape browser.

    2. Browser

      iDNAfication is best viewed with Internet Explorer version 4.0 or later. If viewed with Netscape version 3.0 or later or Netscape Communicator the animation may unexpectedly stop, if this happens click on the "repeat" or "reload" button to view the entire animation.

      If playing with Internet Explorer the player may be asked to download "Microsoft Vitural Machne" in order to play the game. If the player does not do so, they will not be able to view the Java applications within the game. Downloading this software will not cause problems to your systerm and is required to view any Java applications while using Internet Explorer.

    3. Monitor and Display Settings

      iDNAfication depends significantly on the procedures used in DNA/forensics analysis. Unfortunately there may be differences in the colors seen depending on the player's monitor. For the best possible color for iDNAfication the monitor should be set to a minimum color palette of 16 bit/64K and a preferred size of 1024 X 768 or greater.

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    © Copyright 2001 The National Biotechnology Information Facility (SWBIC) / Regents of New Mexico State University. All rights reserved.