Michael Chernoff

Video Artist | Researcher | Educator

FxR Versus AhR: The Battle For Metabolism
Flash Video Game (2022)

This is a class final game project made in ART 425/525 Designed Play taught by Matt Kenyon. The entire class was given various videogame concepts submitted by a group of kids at the 14th Street Block Club located  in West Buffalo. This project is based on a proposal by Brad Marshall a counselor for the club. Brad submitted a videogame in which two Bile Acid Recepotors are rivals. The proposal was selected by Jonathon Bolt an MFA in the Dept of Art and myself. As collaborators we each created unique assets independently and shared some programming duties. Togther we decided to make a floating side scrolling shooter inspired by game design from Galaga and R-Type. The game itself was created in Stencyl and published as a flash game with a 640x480 resolution. 

Original Proposal Request by Brad Marshall

Microbiological graphics and food graphics created by Jon Bolt using lidar scanning and Blender software to create 3D models which became flattened images and animations for the game levels as objects and background assets

I wrote the logics and story for the game. From the start we were not familiar with the biological processes Brad supplied in his description. Through a weekend of research we learned how bile produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder then released into the intestinal tract. The bile absorbs fats and carries them over to the liver where bile acids metabolize cholesterols. Both FxR (Farnesoid X receptor) and AhR (Aryl hydrocarbon receptor) activate genes for synthesizing bile acids. However AhR increases insulin levels which causes diseases. Based on this research we programmed levels and gameobjects to imitate these processes with some degree of sci-fi creativity.

The storyline features a character named Vinnie who is addictively eating Chicken Wings. Vinnie must be saved by his doctor who is also his also his Uncle Franky. Since Vinne  cannot properly metabolize fats from the wings he is going to contract diabetes. Dr. Uncle Franky programs a nanobot program to ensure Vinnie’s FxR is activated. The user plays as Franky as they program proper metabolism for Vinnie’s intestines.

The storyline is illustrated as slides made with Adobe PS and Dall-E for still images. The AI generative promptes are based on keywords such as “sauce, wing, italian man, doctor, restaurant, examination room, computer, etc.”