Welcome to the AXON project page. Alongside information about the game, you'll find a game trailer, screenshots, cheat codes, live game stats (powered by Google Analytics) and reviews.

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Game Trailer, Project Information, Screen Shots, Results, Reviews
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Game Trailer

Project Information

AXON is the latest addition to Wellcome Collection's growing portfolio of free online games which has been commissioned to accompany their latest exhibition Brains: The Mind as Matter.

The Brief

Wellcome Collection's major new exhibition will look at one of the most complex entities in the universe. Brains: The Mind as Matter (29 March to 17 June 2012) explores what humans have done to brains in the cause of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.

Brains follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire. As part of their engagement remit, the Collection has a growing portfolio of free online games designed to extend the reach of the subjects and themes from their exhibitions.

The Solution

AXON is set inside a foetal brain, modelling real biological phenomena found in neural development. The game challenges players to grow their neuron as long as possible; climbing through brain tissue, out-competing rival neurons and creating as many connections to distant regions of the brain as they can.

AXON was developed by BAFTA winning games studio Preloaded for Wellcome Collection, through an exciting collaboration with 'Brains' exhibition curator Marius Kwint and neuroscientist Richard Wingate. Taking the anatomy of the brain as a starting point, and a video showing the microscopic growth of neurons in a chicken’s brain, the team brought scientific and games-making expertise together to create a challenging, enjoyable game that has its roots in real science. A concise explanation of the science behind the game, the video, and links to Wikipedia articles on neuroanatomy are included, as part of an holistic scientific approach to casual gaming.

Summary of the game:

Designed for a mainstream audience and targeted specifically for games portals to seed, AXON is a fun and engaging game experience which offers players a rare glimpse of how the brains is formed, and an 'inside the brain' introduction to the strange world of neurons, proteins and axons.

AXON builds on Wellcome Collection’s ongoing strategy to use games for both engagement and education, and follows the huge success of the High Society exhibition game High Tea, which explored the nineteenth-century British opium trade in China.

AXON follows the highly successful High Tea in Wellcome Collection's project of developing engaging and educational casual games for the general public that explore the connections between medicine, life and art. With its punchy biological aesthetic and unique gameplay in which you 'are' a neuron, we hope the game encourages players to see and understand the human brain in new and exciting ways. ”
Danny Birchall - Website Editor at the Wellcome Collection

“ We sat down with a games design agency, a curator and a neuroscientist and tried to find out what rules govern what happens in the brain, particularly how neurons grow. We then turned those rules into game rules so that in the game the player grows a neuron using the same mechanisms that are used in actual neuron development. The result is a very fast-pace, clicky game with science behind it. ”
Martha Henson - Multimedia Producer at the Wellcome Trust


View full image set on Flickr


Designed with portability and 'portal-appeal' the game has been distributed using our online publishing strategy.

In the first week of launch AXON was played over 335,000 times. It has had an overwhelming response from the gaming community, Twitter and journalists.

Live Stats (powered by Google Analytics)

Total games played


Average session length


'Learn more' educational content clicks



Online Reviews

“ Think fast, but click faster! Axon only takes a few minutes to play, but once you reach out and make some connections, you'll be hooked. ”
Stephen Lewis - Jay Is Games

“ A speedy mouse finger is essential as a rapidly shrinking sphere marks the areas that are accessible and once no unclaimed nodes are within it, it's gameover. Brain freeze.

I like to think of it as the process my mind goes through when writing a post; the green boost nodes that automatically build connections are the equivalent of discovering the perfect pun. The purple nodes that expand the zone of influence are a delicious cup of coffee. Once a game is complete, links point outward to articles about parts of the brain. It’s sobering to know that I just built a pontine mossy fibre projecting neuron and sure beats simply having 10 million points. ”
Adam Smith - Rock Paper Shotgun

Other Reviews:

Game Community Comments:

  • “Oh, I wonder what this game is about. Hmmm, nice graphics, nice gameplay...oh I died. What kind of cell am I??? Wait...this game is educational...ahhhhh, ExploreWellcome, you tricked me!”

  • “who else can't stop clicking to the beat?”

  • “Great game, but I want a high score system so we can see who has the
    most nerve.”

  • “So FUN! And this may help you on your exams. :P”

  • “Damn good game, damn hard to play with a touchpad though.”

  • “Great Game .. Something usefully to learn. Wish the force cell would not make you loose so easy :)”

  • “Awesome game. Fun relaxed gaming that does not demand any real commitment. Looks great, loved the flow of the game, 5/5 for me.”

  • “Be aggressive! Be aggressive! Be aggressive! Good game, love to see what neuron I become at the end, 5/5 for originality.”

  • “74,583!!!! NOOOOOOO!”

  • “My finger hurts”

  • “You've grown a purkinje cell!!! *clicks and reads avidly...*”

  • “Awesome. Great replay value, addicting, and educational! I really liked this game. 33,500 1st try, 45,000 my 2nd...70,000 + is gonna be fun!”

  • “Really nice game. I just have one bad thing to say about this. After staring at the screen for so long, when I move my white strand to a white circle my eyes have a hard time adjusting to realize there's another circle in front of me that I have to move to. The strand itself is fine, but either a different color for the circles or color customization so that we can do it ourselves, would be absolutely amazing and turn this into a five instead of a 4/5. Keep up the great work, though.”

What Twitter Said:

  • @Rubywax: “This is fantastic check it out http://t.co/J0h55SW5”

  • @HenrikDjerf: “Found a pretty cool game called AXON http://axon.wellcomeapps.com/ the visuals, sound and gameplay go really well with each other #axon”

  • @Psych_Writer: “New online game, #Axon, "fast paced, addictive & based on real brain science". Play here http://ow.ly/9JLvs from @explorewellcome”

  • @AmasianV: “I think i broke my mouse playing this last night #axon”

  • @ResearchDigest: “New online game, #Axon, "fast paced, addictive & based on real brain science”

Contact Details

For any further information please contact:

Media Contact, Preloaded
Natalie Lambert
+44 (0)20 7684 3505

Media Contact, Wellcome Collection
Tim Morley
+44 (0)20 7611 8612