A serious game to teach plant selective breeding.
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PlantBreedGame is a software implementing a serious game to teach selective breeding via the example of a fictitious annual plant species to students at the master level. It takes the form of a Shiny application, benefiting from the R programming language and software environment for statistical computing.

This software is available under a free software license, the GNU Affero General Public License (version 3 and later); see the COPYING file. The copyright is owned by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and Montpellier SupAgro.

It is versioned using the git software, the central repository being hosted here on GitHub, and the institutional repository being hosted there on SourceSup. The README file is available at https://sourcesup.renater.fr/plantbreedgame/.



Before using this game, you need to install R as well as various packages, listed in the file src/dependencies.R. Then it should work on Unix-like operating systems (GNU/Linux, Mac OS) as well as on Microsoft Windows.

Locally on your computer

  1. Retrieve the Shiny application, by downloading it as a ZIP archive (then unzip it and rename the directory).

Here is how to do it in a terminal for Unix-like operating systems:

wget https://github.com/timflutre/PlantSelBreedGame/archive/master.zip
unzip master.zip
mv PlantSelBreedGame-master PlantSelBreedGame

The package can also be installed after cloning the git repository:

git clone git@github.com:timflutre/PlantSelBreedGame.git
  1. Then, enter into the PlantSelBreedGame directory; inside, download the data.zip archive (example data set retrievable from the authors) and unzip it.

  2. Finally, open a R session, and execute the following commands:


A web page should automatically open in your default web browser, and you should be able to start playing. See the explanations below in the section "Usage".

To set up your own server

First, you need to have a Shiny server installed and running, say, in /srv/shiny-server. We only tested with the open source version, but it should also work with the pro version. For all this, have a look at the official documentation.

Second, you need to add an application to the server. Start by downloading, for instance in your home, our Shiny application as a ZIP archive or clone the git repository (see explanations in the previous section):

cd ~
wget https://github.com/timflutre/PlantSelBreedGame/archive/master.zip
unzip master.zip
mv PlantSelBreedGame-master PlantSelBreedGame

Then, create a new directory for the application (let's call it breeding-game here):

mkdir /srv/shiny-server/breeding-game

and copy inside the content of our Shiny application you just downloaded:

cp -r ~/PlantSelBreedGame-master/* /srv/shiny-server/breeding-game

By default, the Shiny server runs as a unix user named shiny. You hence need to create a unix group, named for instance breeding, to which the shiny user can be added (the Shiny server may need to be restarted for this to be taken into account).

Everything inside the breeding-game directory should be readable and writable for users who are part of the breeding group. This is particularly the case for the data set (data directory, retrievable from the authors, see previous section). Download the data.zip archive in your home on the server, copy it inside the breeding-game directory, unzip it, and set the read and write rights to the group breeding:

cp ~/data.zip /srv/shiny-server/breeding-game
cd /srv/shiny-server/breeding-game
unzip data.zip
chgrp -R breeding data
chmod -R ug+rw,o-rwx data

Now go to the URL of the breeding-game application made available by your Shiny server. If you encounter an error, look at the log, for instance:

less /var/log/shiny-server/breeding-game-shiny-20180129-100752-39427.log

Errors may be due to missing packages, otherwise report an issue (see below). Once all requested packages are installed, you should be able to start playing. See the explanations below in the section "Usage".


A scientific article is currently in preparation. This repository is made available in the mean time for pedagogical reasons. As the authors invested time and effort in creating this package, please cite it as:

Flutre T, Diot J, David J. PlantBreedGame: a serious game to teach plant selective breeding. 2019. https://sourcesup.renater.fr/plantbreedgame/


You can discover an example online here.


Once the application is installed and working, read the game rules (tab How to play?) and start by downloading the initial data set (all files listed at the bottom of the page).

Before making any request, such as phenotyping, you need to log in (tab Identification). To get a sense of how the interface works, you can use the "test" breeder with the "tester" status which doesn't require any password and isn't subject to time restriction. Remember, for your selection to work, you need to analyze the initial data carefully. The Theory tab can be helpful. Enjoy!

If you want to organize a real playing session, you need to create as many breeders as there are players or player teams. For this, you need to log in as the "admin" breeder with the "game-master" status. Initially, its password is set to 1234, but this can (and should!) be changed via the tab Identification. This tab also allows a game master to create new breeders and sessions, among other things.


When encountering a problem with the package, you can report issues on GitHub directly (here).


You can contribute in various ways:

  • report an issue (online, see the above section);

  • suggest improvements (in the same way as issues);

  • propose a pull request (after creating a new branch).