Complexity is good when it comes to problem-solving. Solving a trivial problem isn’t rewarding, and failing to solve a trivial problem is downright defeating. Trivial problems make us feel like we are jumping through hoops or doing exercises while complex problems get the juices flowing.

The problems in Petri Dish are both complex and challenging. Teachers and scientists will have to work at them to solve them. At the same time, they are also accessible to a wide range of learners. The individual mechanisms that make up Petri Dish couldn’t be easier to understand and players can uncover a lot simply through trial-and-error. Remember, the world is transparent, the set of rules are small and intuitive, and possible actions are limited. Start with what you know and learn by observing what happens. Problems build sequentially.

The complexity in Petri Dish isn’t manufactured. The complexity arises naturally when systems are linked and players are solving problems where all of these mechanisms are in action and interacting. This complexity reflects the real world, and it is energizing when coupled with practical challenges that make sense to the player.

Players who are unused to solving complex problems may struggle at first, but solving one problem will provide motivation and help them identify effective problem-solving strategies for solving the next. Being part of a large and diverse community that learns together will make this transition period shorter and easier.

To get a sense of what this problem-solving looks like, we have a video walkthrough demonstrating a challenge that a player might encounter in Petri Dish: optimizing the cellular respiration pathway in a cell.