Biology Lesson: Immune Attack

I'm in your tummy right now.

It’s a sorry tale that when I see the National Science Foundation’s logo, “NSF”, my immediate reaction is, “Not Safe For what?!” I’m more disgusted with me than you could ever be. The letters come up via a game created as an educational tool called Immune Attack. It’s a Fantastic Voyage-style (oh heck, I’m young enough to want to call it “an Inner Space-style) exploration game as you fly about inside the human body, interacting with things on a cellular level.

It’s a shame it’s been made with 300 year old tech – this could have looked all kinds of incredible if built with a more recent engine – but its purposes aren’t to dazzle my idiot eyes, but rather learn things about biology.

It’s free, the rather sizeable download available from the creators, the Federation of American Scientists. You can also make a donation to them should you feel so moved. They describe the aim of the game thus:

“You must navigate a nanobot through a 3D environment of blood vessels and connective tissue in an attempt to save an ailing patient by retraining her non-functional immune cells. Along the way, you will learn about the biological processes that enable macrophages and neutrophils – white blood cells – to detect and fight infections.”

There’s a trailer here too, but I’m a little concerned by their use of the word “alien”. Unless this game was made by a Federation of American Scientists from another planet that also happens to have an America. I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.

Via Neatorama and Blues.


  1. Heliocentric says:

    You really don’t think of Deus ex? Back my day we wouldn’t let a man with pierced ears command a millitary operation.

  2. Andrei Sebastian says:

    Cool game, thanks.

    P.S. Such a shame and such waste for the poor engine. It certainly is’nt meant to please our idiot eyes, but it would sure help to attract more gamers.

  3. phil says:

    Wait, they’re saying Truma Centre lied to us? Damn you Nintendo.

  4. Adrian says:

    damn i always wanted a game like this! why did they have to use last century graphics? WHY??

  5. Solivagant says:

    “The NSF is raiding the island and shots have been fired.”

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      The US government must surely be rueing the day they decided to cut off their funding.

  6. hydra9 says:

    I feel a bit sick. I don’t want to see my poo. And what are those worm things? HELP

  7. Starcide says:

    Is it a bad sign if I see NSF and think we are talking about the organisation from Deus Ex?!

  8. Thermal Ions says:

    I’m young enough to want to call it “an Inner Space-style”

    And here I was thinking I’m OLD enough to want to call it “an Inner Space-style” exploration.

    • sinister agent says:

      I saw Inner Space for the first time in about fifteen years the other week. I shed my required annual tear of toy.

      It’s surprising this hasn’t been done sooner, more recently. That I know about, anyway. The scope for playing with the setting is vast, and the level design could be great fun.

      It’s tempting to blame Microcosm, obv.

  9. Mihai says:

    It’s about time we start exploring the possibility of translating game design rules and video games production value over to our ageing school system. Something similar, here: link to

  10. HexagonalBolts says:

    I think they mean alien as in foreign/unfamiliar

    • mrmud says:

      They actually write ailing as in someone who is ill.

    • Persus-9 says:

      Not in the trailer they don’t. Although I must admit I did for a moment think John might have been making a really weak joke about how far his reading ability had been corrupted by gaming as a follow up to his NSF remark.

      However after watching the trailer I agree with HexagonalBolts. They’re using alien in the sense of unfamilar/not part of normal experience.

  11. Brulleks says:

    My immediate thought was ‘Need sor Fpeed’

    And that’s when I realised my mistake.

  12. Spacewalk says:

    Not safe for shadow governments.

  13. Isometric says:

    “You can’t fight cells (ideas) with bullets.”

  14. ulix says:

    Man… I’ve always dreamed of an RTS game inside the human body, where one party plays the outside attackers (germs and stuff), the other party controls the immune system.

    Now that would be awesome. Even more so, if it was more or less scientifically accurate (as far as that is possible while still making the game fun to play).

    • Isometric says:

      I’d imagine something similar to the futurama episode where the team venture inside fry. If you’ve ever seen it that is.

  15. Ash says:

    Anyone remember 3D body adventure? That was my favourite game as a kid. it came bundled with a bunch of freeware when my dad bought a shitty packard bell PC.

    I spent hours running around the hospital and shrinking myself down to shoort 2D doom style sprite viruses.

    there was also a 3D flythrough of the heart and digestive system. I used to spend more time playing that then i did doom.

  16. aldo says:

    I was at a conference/seminar thing recently which included some ‘serious’ games, including one designed as a triage simulator – that is, identify the worst wounded, perform an evaluation checklist, and mark their urgency, etc. It was actually pretty graphically advanced, and their demonstration footage of 3d guy bleeding to death from a head wound (that is, from head only, with facial expressions, realistic blood flow rate, skin pallor etc changing) was genuinely spooky.

  17. Krondonian says:

    The zero-G spaceship environment from Crysis. But in a human body.

    That is all.

  18. Bret says:

    “Germ defenses are so big, you don’t even know who you’re working for. That’s terror. Terror built into the system. The IMMUNE system.”

  19. hoff says:

    So they stole the Ambrosia shipment?

  20. Keith says:

    Ding, ding-replace that nanobot with a school bus and you’ve got the world’s greatest Magic School Bus computer game.

  21. Urthman says:

    Actually, this is a super-futuristic top-secret government graphics engine (as you would expect from the NSF label) that shows you exactly what things look like at that scale.

    But at that scale, photons seem much bigger, and so everything you see looks blocky and pixelated.

  22. jont says:

    There’s nowt wrong with that engine, you can still go back to the original Half Life even now.

    But that design, now there’s a thing. I’d be happy as Larry swimming about in my little gut-sub if they’d just let me do so for about five fucking seconds without having to click on a pop up window, or having Major MacWhateverthefuck telling me that a new pop up message has appeared that needs urgent attention.