Coming August 2014, I Am Dolphin is an iOS game developed at the Johns Hopkins University that may aid patients in stroke recovery.

Move over, Goat Simulator; a new game is looking to dethrone your spot as the ultimate animal physics experience. But this won’t just be silly shenanigans – I Am Dolphin was developed by a multidisciplinary team at Johns Hopkins, using the principles of neuroscience.

The game is simple: players control a dolphin or an orca whale by running their finger along a touch screen. The sea creatures follow the movement with realistic body motions that simulate muscles, bones, and a functioning motor system.

The objective of the game is to fight off predatory fish, but I expect a huge draw will simply be the fun of playing with the physics of the animals. “You feel as though you become the dolphin,” software architect Omar Ahmad says of the link created between the player’s and animal’s motor systems.

More impressive still is that the team is testing the game as an aid in stroke recovery. “The goal is to move gaming away from extreme violence and towards motor skill and immersion in nature,” neurology and neuroscience professor John Krakauer told The Escapist. He believes that games like I Am Dolphin “…will provide the motivation and enjoyment to have patients make movements that they have lost, at the intensity and dosage that is required to mediate repair in a critical time window of enhanced neural plasticity early after stroke.”

I Am Dolphin will release on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod through iTunes, but the possibility exists for the game to come to other platforms in the future. “The game itself is completely cross platform and runs on a wide array of platforms including Windows, Mac, and Linux,” software architect Promit Roy told The Escapist. “Releasing on other platforms is going to be a business and time decision and will be guided by how our iOS launch goes.”

To create I Am Dolphin, the team developed its own game engine from scratch that allows for the creation of “motor-connection simulations of animals,” Ahmad told The Escapist. Ahmad, Roy and artist Kat McNally logged hundreds of weekend hours at Baltimore’s National Aquarium observing, filming and drawing the dolphins in order to produce their realistic results.

Do you guys think we could have another Goat Simulator success story in the works, here?

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