Video Gamers Contributed To Breakthrough Research For What Illness?
In 2008 scientists at the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science and Department of Biochemistry entered into a collaboration to create a game where players would contribute to research projects. The end result of their collaboration was the popular game Foldit; players play the game by solving protein model puzzles. From the perspective of the player the game is just a quirky and fun puzzle app, but from the perspective of the scientists analyzing the results it’s an incredibly efficient way to crowd source complex protein folding projects.
An excellent example of Foldit’s power for quickly solving complex problems is that of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus retroviral protease. In 2011 Foldit posted the protease problem as a puzzle on the site for a three week window. Players were able to collaboratively produce an accurate model of the enzyme in just ten days–successfully modeling the enzyme had stumped scientists since its discovery fifteen years earlier. The 3D model created by Foldit players was published in the science journal Nature and went on to be used in the computer modeling of antiretroviral drugs.
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