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Famous Scientists Face Off in Science Kombat — But the Fighter Roster Looks Incomplete

Your Favorite Scientists Are Now SuperheroesWhich super scientist do you think would win in a battle?

Posted by Popular Science on Friday, March 4, 2016

Picture this: notable scientists of decades past could use powers inspired by their own discoveries to face off against one another in a 2D fighting game. That’s the concept behind Science Kombat, as illustrated in this video with sprites designed by artist Diego Sanches — except it’s also a real game, currently in development.

The game isn’t exactly accurate, of course; it’s more of a creative interpretation of what superpowers each scientist might have, based on which discovery they’re often associated with having made. For example, Charles Darwin “evolves” into other animals (not how evolution works!), Albert Einstein travels at the speed of light, Stephen Hawking teleports using wormholes, Marie Curie shoots radium and polonium, and so on. I’m not sure whether any of this qualifies as “educational,” but it definitely looks like a fun concept for a fighting game, and if it makes folks more interested in looking up these scientists and learning more, that’s cool too!

Much like the original Mortal Kombat from whence Science Kombat borrows its name, this game only has one female fighter and it’s Marie Curie. MK had Sonya Blade in 1992. Also, the Science Kombat roster is also a lot whiter than Mortal Kombat. Except it’s not actually 1992 anymore, in spite of what the excellent nostalgic graphics on display in Science Kombat might have you believe!

Fighting games nowadays usually manage to come up with more more diverse rosters than this, and I think Science Kombat can step it up. The fact that Marie Curie is often cited as the only female scientist ever doesn’t help — she’s not, she’s just the mandatory “STEM minority” that springs to mind for most people. The fact that she’s so often tokenized in this fashion ends up making her contributions seem more like a “notable exception” rather than one of many great STEM achievers. Both fighting games and STEM fields could stand to improve on this line of thinking.

Ada Lovelace is pretty well-known at this point, so I’m surprised she didn’t make the cut. If they’re going for name recognition, how about Hedy Lamarr? Where’s George Washington Carver, or Percy Julian, or Neil Degrasse Tyson, or Mae Jemison? Those are all off the top of my head — I’m sure you all can come up with way better suggestions in the comments!

(via Popular Science)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).

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