Based on Mendelian genetics, Genotype is absorbing and challenging, say Dr Louise Robinson and Dr Ian Turner.
IS IT FUN?
From the viewpoint of a molecular biologist, it is exciting to see pure science in a board game format, but that enjoyment may not be quite so elevated in a non- scientist – few rule books come with a glossary to understand the language of the game.
The game is played over five rounds made up of three phases, the working phase, the plant breeding stage, and research upgrade phase. It is also possible to play as a solo game and, with a recommended age of 14+, would make it a good revision tool to any biology student.
WHAT IS GENOTYPE?
Genotype is a game which is embedded in the science of Mendelian genetics in which you mimic the famous pea plant experiments conducted by Gregor Mendel. Your experiments utilise four of the traits originally investigated (seed shape, seed colour, flower colour and plant height) from which you track the resulting genotype and phenotype.
Alongside this you must take actions such as hiring research assistants and securing funds… all familiar territory for any researcher! The game itself contains lots of tiles, dice and wooden components and is more complex than other offerings from Genius Games – with a 20 page rulebook and 12-page ‘science behind’ book, you need to dedicate some time to truly learn the rules of Genotype. Much like you need to dedicate your time to understanding Mendelian genetics when you first come across it at school!
IS IT EDUCATIONAL?
This game is packed full of knowledge from the background provided in the information books, to the grounding of Mendelian genetics, to the game play itself and the understanding of Punnett squares and inheritance. Genotype is a feat of game design to be able to create gameplay from a subject which does not naturally lend itself to table top entertainment. Students and professors alike can take challenge, and enjoyment, from a session of Genotype.
Although certainly not a pick-up-and-play, you get almost a sense of achievement from learning the rules of this game and acting out the experiments of St. Thomas’s Abbey.
Dr Louise Robinson is Lecturer in Forensic Biology and Dr Ian Turner an Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching, both work at the University of Derby.