The Rathenau Institute is developing a social game on human enhancement for the iPhone in cooperation with the Dutch game developer IJsfontein. The game, which is going to be launched by the end of this year, is meant to encourage players to think about the ethical dilemmas on human enhancement. In three different missions, a team of players can either train themselves or use light to heavy enhancements to reach their goal.
 
Human enhancement technologies can help people to become stronger, fitter and more beautiful or focused. Such medical technologies are developed for people with a disorder but are now increasingly used by healthy people to improve their performance or appearance. Popular examples are Viagra for men to improve their performance in bed, cosmetic surgery like liposuction to remove fat from the body or ADHD drug Ritalin to increase concentration before an exam.
 
The Rathenau Institute – the technology and science system assessment institute for the Dutch parliament – aims with this social game to invite people to think about the broader trend of public acceptance of healthy people using technologies to become smarter, fitter or more beautiful. How does enhancement change our ideas about what is human? Will the social pressure to use these enhancements increase? What if your child is the only one who has not taken Ritalin before his or her secondary school exam? And who has access to these technologies?
 
The social game we are developing forces players to think about and discuss these issues within their team. Players can sign up for three different missions: your child is taking part in a competition to enter a top five university, you’re a scientist who is needs funding for cancer vaccine research or you’re an elderly person who wants to live independently with your friends. As a group or as an individual you can decide to either put a lot of time in training or use enhancements.
 
The Rathenau Institute thinks a social game is an effective way of making a broad audience think about an issue like human enhancement. The players get insight in existing and experimental human technologies. They are challenged to think about the question how far they would go to reach their goal.
 
In a Show, Tell and Talk we would like to demonstrate the game, explain the choices we have made, talk about the experiences of the players and assess social games as a way to communicate with a broader audience on science and technology dilemmas.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

A social game for the Iphone
Communicating dilemmas on human enhancement

Ira van Keulen   Rathenau Institute

Antoinette Thijssen   Rathenau Institute

The Rathenau Institute is developing a social game on human enhancement for the iPhone in cooperation with the Dutch game developer IJsfontein. The game, which is going to be launched by the end of this year, is meant to encourage players to think about the ethical dilemmas on human enhancement. In three different missions, a team of players can either train themselves or use light to heavy enhancements to reach their goal.
 
Human enhancement technologies can help people to become stronger, fitter and more beautiful or focused. Such medical technologies are developed for people with a disorder but are now increasingly used by healthy people to improve their performance or appearance. Popular examples are Viagra for men to improve their performance in bed, cosmetic surgery like liposuction to remove fat from the body or ADHD drug Ritalin to increase concentration before an exam.
 
The Rathenau Institute – the technology and science system assessment institute for the Dutch parliament – aims with this social game to invite people to think about the broader trend of public acceptance of healthy people using technologies to become smarter, fitter or more beautiful. How does enhancement change our ideas about what is human? Will the social pressure to use these enhancements increase? What if your child is the only one who has not taken Ritalin before his or her secondary school exam? And who has access to these technologies?
 
The social game we are developing forces players to think about and discuss these issues within their team. Players can sign up for three different missions: your child is taking part in a competition to enter a top five university, you’re a scientist who is needs funding for cancer vaccine research or you’re an elderly person who wants to live independently with your friends. As a group or as an individual you can decide to either put a lot of time in training or use enhancements.
 
The Rathenau Institute thinks a social game is an effective way of making a broad audience think about an issue like human enhancement. The players get insight in existing and experimental human technologies. They are challenged to think about the question how far they would go to reach their goal.
 
In a Show, Tell and Talk we would like to demonstrate the game, explain the choices we have made, talk about the experiences of the players and assess social games as a way to communicate with a broader audience on science and technology dilemmas.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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