Glitches in games are usually a bummer. But Rosa Menkman makes surreal art through a video game that's meant to be glitched out. Rosa Menkman via Co.Design

The narrative possibilities in video games are endless, even if there are a few well-worn tropes (save the princess, shoot that guy). But what about the really unexpected ways games are used? We’ve rounded up some of the most compelling video-game experiments in 2012. Enjoy.

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Teaching Relativitiy

In the MIT Game Lab’s A Slower Speed of Light, the speed of light slowly decreases as you move through the game. Needless to say, things get weird. In addition to serving up a psychedelic experience, the game also teaches you about the Doppler effect and time dilation.

Making Thumbprint Art

People often ask: “Are video games art?” But usually they aren’t talking about the supremely addictive iPhone game Angry Birds. Artist Evan Roth made that distinction a little less clear by plotting and painting the thumb movements required to beat every level of the game.

Turning Glitches Into Art

Glitches in games are usually a bummer. But Rosa Menkman makes surreal art through a video game that’s meant to be glitched out.

Calculating Square Roots And Graphing Quadratic Functions

In the game Minecraft (primer here), you can build whatever you want out of blocks–it’s a virtual Lego master class. One 16-year-old made a fully functional scientific graphing calculator with it. See a video here.

Exploring Memories

Alan Kwan strapped on a pair of camera bifocals one day and started recording his life. Every night, he’d remake some of those recordings into a frightening and fascinating game called Bad Trip, a creative way of touring Kwan’s mind.

Beating The Turing Test

For five years, the BotPrize was a test of artificial intelligence in games. Could a machine in the game convince players it was human? This year, not one but two game bots passed.