No Pain, No Game

The science of pain isn't an obvious starting point for an online game. But the  Science Museum  certainly has good form making tricky subject matter fun for all ages.

On average, we each consume 373 painkillers per year. Perhaps more surprisingly, scientists have proven that our mood levels affect how intensely we feel pain, and that spider venom could hold the key to future pain treatment. All this and more is explored in a quirky new game called OUCH, part of the Science Museum’s latest exhibition,  Pain Less .

The game, created by specialist digital studio  Thought Den , begins by challenging players to inflict injuries on a loveable, unwitting protagonist. Using their arsenal of placebos, painkillers and spider venom, players then defend a pulsing brain against waves of pain signals. This is top-down, frantic gameplay at its most basic and beautiful. 

With graphics inspired by classic designers such as Saul Bass and Otto Neurath, the game has a rich and unique appearance unlike traditional online Flash games. The addictive gameplay is enough to keep the player refining strategies in pursuit of the high score.

OUCH represents a new direction in games commissioning for Science Museum. The project is a collaboration between the museum team, 13-year-old students from  Langley Academy  and Bristol-based  Thought Den . The students were involved from the beginning, making decisions on content and gameplay. 

Ben Templeton, Creative Director at Thought Den, explains: "It's not often we involve the audience in concept generation. It was a fun way to kick off and means the game strikes a good balance between what the museum want to teach people and the level of playabilty young people have come to expect."

Jane Audas, project producer for Science Museum, says: "Thought Den is an agency to watch. OUCH is funny, seriously playable and slick to look at. Having pain management as a subject matter could have been a barrier to delivering an enjoyable experience, but OUCH is a cracker."

The game will be on touchscreens in the Science Museum's forward-thinking Antenna gallery from Nov 8th. Players around the world can test their mettle online here :


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