The Education Arcade (TEA) and Boston-based Fablevision are collaborating on Caduceus, an online puzzle-adventure game for tweens. Designed by CMS grad students Evan Wendel,’08, and Lan Le, ’09, and TEA staff, Caduceus exposes young players (ages 8 to 12) to the concepts of altruism and compassion, while also testing their skills of logic, reason and creativity.
Caduceus is a key content element of a new pediatric medical research awareness and fundraising movement called Generation Cures. Founded by Children’s Hospital Boston, the Generation Cures website at www.generationcures.org offers creative online stories, games and interactive resources designed to help parents teach their children to care about others and believe they can make a difference.
The site is currently in beta mode, and will be formally launched in New England in the fall or winter of 2008, and then nationally in 2009.
Caduceus is named after the classic symbol for both medicine and alchemy. The game plays out as a series of thematically related puzzles that are linked by the story of a young healer’s journey across the fantastic world of Alterica, where a deadly and unknown disease has taken hold.
The narrative of the game runs like this: although you have just graduated from the Alterican College of Alchemy, and are only a novice healer, you are sent into field to fight the disease that is ravaging the land, and soon you are tracking the spreading plague to its source.
Decipher each mystery you face and your Caduceus — the magical staff carried by all healers — will transform. As you rise in rank, the staff will magically acquire the snakes, wings and sparkling jewel of the full Caduceus. Throughout your journey you will meet unforgettable characters, form alliances with other players and set your own course until you find the cure that will save Alterica.
The puzzles in Caduceus have the feel of casual games, but they also expose young players to real issues related to the science of medicine. In addition, the mechanics of the games are designed to encourage altruism and collaboration.
Each player is a member of a cohort of players making comparable progress in the game. Though game-play is individual, the entire cohort must donate a percentage of their earned points before any member of the cohort can proceed to the next chapter of the game. As players complete each puzzle, they earn points which have a real-world value. Only after they and their fellow players donate some of those points to a worthy cause, however, will the next chapter of the story (and the next puzzle) be revealed.