Touching Triton nominated for national Serious Games award

Huntsville, Ala. — Touching Triton, a free online educational activity developed at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is a finalist for the 2015 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge. The challenge is held at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) held in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 30-Dec 4, 2015.

“It feels pretty incredible to have put in four and a half years into a project and then see it all come together to achieve what you had dreamed,” said Adam Hott, EdD. “It is even better when others recognize the result of that work.” Hott is the Digital Applications Lead at HudsonAlpha and the project manager for Touching Triton.

The web-based activity is available for anyone to play online as a guest. The game builds understanding of common complex disease risk, influenced by factors from family history, environment and genomic data. Students synthesize data from these sources to inform lifestyle choices and medical intervention strategies in the setting of a long-duration space flight mission.

“My hope for Touching Triton is that it becomes an activity that is used in classrooms across the country and around the world,” Hott said. “We know that Touching Triton increases students’ knowledge on common complex disease risk and engages them in the content and story simultaneously.”

Hott worked with colleagues Kelly East and Madelene Loftin to design Touching Triton. East, a genetic counselor and Clinical Applications Lead at HudsonAlpha, is the assistant project manager for Touching Triton. Loftin is the Educator Development Lead at HudsonAlpha and lead educator for the game.

“We have seen firsthand how playing Touching Triton engages student and teacher learners alike,” East said. “The game increases their knowledge of how multiple genetic and environmental factors together contribute to risk of complex diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

The Serious Games Showcase and Challenge recognizes outstanding examples of games that are both entertaining and educational. The games must have measurable learning objectives, provide players with a challenge, make use of game play dynamics or gaming technology, and provide players with feedback regarding meeting the challenge and achieving learning objectives.

After a rigorous evaluation, the top entries for the showcase were selected as finalists and invited to display their games on the exhibit floor during I/ITSEC. A second round of evaluations from worldwide industry experts will determine the best game in each of four categories — business, government, student, mobile, and best social media crowdsourcing. Touching Triton is one of 10 serious games competing in the business category. Student evaluators from Orlando, Fla., and Webster Groves, Mo., will also choose a Students’ Choice winner.

Awards will be presented at I/ITSEC to recognize this prestigious accomplishment, and an additional award winner will be chosen by all I/ITSEC attendees for the People’s Choice Award — the serious game conference attendees deem the best.

“It is a huge honor to be selected as a finalist in the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge,” East said. “We are incredibly proud of how this game has come to life over the past several years and are excited to be able to share it with the judges and attendees of I/ITSEC 2015.”

Touching Triton was made possible through collaboration with NASA and funding from a Science Education Partnership Award supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant #8R25 OD010981-02, Lockheed Martin and HudsonAlpha. To learn more about Touching Triton, watch the overview video at

To play the game online, please visit:

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Founded in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering biotech entrepreneurship; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes 29 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit:

Media Contact:
Margetta Thomas