Gamers uncover information about the AIDS virus in 10 days, what scientists have been unable to do in 15 years!
When you think of gaming, you normally think of shoot-em-ups and role playing games where you can escape into a virtual reality.
The University of Washington has created a different kind of game though, called Foldit.
Foldit is an online puzzle game where the objective is to fold the structure of proteins as effectively as possible. Scientists can then use these solutions to solve real world problems.
In 2011, players uncovered something incredible. In just 10 days, players of Foldit had deciphered the crystal structure of an AIDS-causing monkey virus. Scientists had been unable to uncover the structure of this enzyme for 15 years.
Foldit adopts the concept of gamification, to attract a wider audience, especially those without a scientific background. This creates a much wider platform where people are discovering real world solutions and sharing it with their friends who are then building on those discoveries.
Foldit provides tutorials on using the tools to manipulate protein structures which are then scores are calculated based on how well the protein is folded. This new type of gaming concept creates limitless opportunities, where under the guise of having fun, people can literally stumble upon scientific discoveries in their spare time.