I. Problem Statement

Biotech is the science of the coming decade(s). Bioinformatics is one of the keys to our continued survival on this planet, but without a solid grounding in basic Mendelian genetics and the principles of inheritance, we have no hope of understanding how the implications of this new science.

Mendelian Genetics (MG) is foundational to all crop & livestock breeding programs so it is fundamental to Agricultural Science. It is the basis of Darwinian evolution so in order to understand that, you need to understand the basics of MG. MG is necessary if one wants to understand the basis of disease susceptibility including many cancers. It is also the 1st step in understanding genetic engineering which is fast becoming the science of the decade if not the century.

II. Target Audience

Primary Player Type

  • Explorer (a la Heeter, et al)

Senior High School (Gr. 12)

Freshman College/University

Biology Class

…basically, anyone in need of a fundamental introduction (new or refresher) to basic Mendelian genetics and inheritance.

III. Ouroboros Magic Circle

Oroboros Magic Circle, (C) Carrie Heeter

Ouroboros Magic Circle, (C) Carrie Heeter

The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol meant to depict something that is cyclical, in other words something that keeps renewing and redefining itself.  It has been adapted by C.Heeter as a way to present the various game design elements that influence the design of a serious game.

In this game, the key elements of the game design that particularly enhance the Player Experience, and those that most strongly support the serious goals/outcomes are the Rules, game Characters, the Designer’s Goals, and the game’s Relation to Real Life.


In this game the rules about which cards can be put together to form a set are directly tied to the genotypes of the rabbits on the cards.


The “characters” in this game are actual rabbits, and they are depicted with photographs rather than drawings or sketches adding a connection to real life genetics.

Designer’s Goals

In this game we are guided by the designer’s goals, namely, to help players gain experience with Mendelian genetics by working with examples where the traits in question are obvious.  The basic idea is that players will be able to make natural connections between the sets of traits being shown in the rabbit’s coat colors and the principles of Mendelian Genetics being studied in class.

Relation to Real Life

The relation to real life in this game, namely the use of actual animals displaying the genotypes and phenotypes being studied allows players to build mental models that are multimodal: they will have the written genotypes and phenotypes as well as images of rabbits that carry these traits.


IV. Content Sources

(See The resources Page for References)


V. Values

What values are inherent in/embedded in your game play?

value-coop This game really has no narrative, and as a result there is no intent to instill or communicate any value messages. The intent of the game is that it be a cooperative play. While there is a scoring system and one player will ultimately win each game, the game is intended to be played with “open” hands (i.e. hands that everyone can see). This way, observers who are not holding any cards can also get involved, by anticipating moves and helping players as they form sets.

Playing this game “out loud” is likely to provide greater benefit than playing in the more traditional “closed” format.


VI. Fun/Engagement


What is fun or engaging about playing your game?

  1. Serious Fun (a la Nicole Lazzaro)
  2. Challenge
    1. Exercising Difficult Skills (a la Tracy Fullerton)
    2. Remembering (a la Leigh Ann Cappello)
    3. Competition (a la Garneau, Heeter, et al.)
    4. Learning (Heeter, et al.)
    5. Advancement Completion (a la Garneau, Heeter, et al.)
    6. Problem Solving (a la Garneau, Heeter, et al.)
  3. Play
    1. Collecting (a la Tracy Fullerton)
    2. Organizing (K.Becker)
  4. Types of Decisions
    1. Informed & Weighted (a la Tracy Fullerton)


VII. Theory 

Point to one or a few theories which are particularly relevant to help explain why the approach you are taking in your game design might be expected to have the desired results. Explain each theory (including citations) and show how it relates to your game.


Zone of Proximal Development

This game is not particularly playable by people who have no prior experience with Mendelian Genetics. It is designed to operate at the edges of the player’s comprehension, and so to help the player consolidate and reinforce concepts learned in class.


In playing this game, learners will be able to develop mental models that will help them connect other examples and concepts with the visual examples they learn here.


By their very nature, many games involve a high degree of repetition  and this game is no different. The actions of matching offspring with legal parents will help to reinforce the learning objectives.

Intrinsic Motivation

Most people find the pictures cute. People like looking at the pictures, and the organizing aspect of the game is one that is often popular.

Fish Tank

Mendelian Genetics becomes very complex as soon as multiple genes are involved. It is simply not possible to consider the entire genome of any organism as a means of understanding  the principles involved. Most examples use a tiny subset of an organism’s genes. This game uses only coat color in rabbits. Even so, since there are approximately ten known genes that code for coat color in rabbits, we use a subset of those in order to keep the complexity at a manageable level. Those gene series that are excluded from this game are in all cases assumed to be represented by a homozygous normal wild pair.


As players move from the novice to the regular game, additional gene series come into play, and the information provided by the genotypes and phenotypes gains additional dimensions.


There are separate glossaries for genetics terminology and for the Rummy game.

Basic Genetic Facts

See: Facts Page.

Sample Rabbit Pedigrees

See how the genotypes might change when information about the ancestors is known.


See: Sources Page