Code#DNA is an applied game developed in collaboration with Vigamus Academy for the Molecular Anthropology Center for the study of ancient DNA of the Department of Biology of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. In this puzzle-based adventure with suggestive settings inspired by real research places all over the world, the main character Dr. Emma, thanks to her ability to have lucid dreams, will try and find the truth hidden in the DNA of historical characters of the past.

The interactive work Code # DNA has been developed by a team of experts active in the gaming field, who worked closely with the scientific consultants of the University, under the coordination and control of Professor Antonella Canini, Full Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanical Garden, and of Professor Olga Rickards, Full Professor of Molecular Anthropology and Director of the Department of Biology.

The interactive experience in question follows the classic style of serious games, placing the informative, educational and promotional purposes of the work above pure entertainment. Code # DNA aims to enhance the study of ancient DNA and the research carried out by the Molecular Anthropology Center.

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Code#DNA follows the story of Dr. Emma (fictional character), a young molecular anthropologist of the University of Tor Vergata who collaborates in a series of scientific research activities related to the extraction and study of ancient DNA from various human finds. The cases examined in the video game are inspired by real research carried out by the Center on real archaeological sites:

  • Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, where a woman was buried in the Sixteenth century
  • Grotta Guattari in San Felice Circeo, seat of the burial place of a Neanderthal
  • Siberia, where an investigation into the existence of the legendary Yeti will take place
  • Seville, alleged burial place of Christopher Columbus
  • The Cathedral of San Fermo in Verona, considered the burial place of a great Templar knight

Dr. Emma will do her researches in the laboratory of the Center, perfectly reconstructed according to its real model, and also on the archaeological sites in question, using a suggestive plot device: Emma, ​​in fact, manages to live what are called “lucid dreams”, over which the young researcher has full control; therefore, she will retrace in her dreams the research theaters in which she participated or which she studied, in search of clues and finds to analyze.

During the exploration, players will interact with simple environmental puzzles to retrieve the information necessary to proceed in the adventure. At an artistic level, this work – created in 3D with a third-person view using the Unity 3D engine – adopts a realistic style, mixing it with dreamlike situations and settings.


  • Storytelling and exploration based on a series of authentic research carried out by the Molecular Anthropology Center for the study of ancient DNA in the Biology Department of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”.
  • 3D reconstruction of the laboratory of the Center for the study of ancient DNA, fully explorable and faithful to its original counterpart.
  • Original soundtrack created by the Applied Music Class of the Roman Conservatory “Saint Louis College of Music”.
  • Developed with the Unity 3D game engine.


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