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How Science & Games Can Work Together

January 30, 2016
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I’ve written a guest post for Nesta and the Longitudinal Prize;

In 2011 there was something of a breakthrough in the work to decipher the structure of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) retroviral protease, an AIDS-causing monkey virus. The problem had lain unsolved for around 15 years until this latest push resulted in a solution after 10 days of concentrated effort. What is remarkable about this new result is that only some of the people involved were scientists. Most of those who helped to crack the problem were in fact gamers. They had been playing Fold-it, a video game in which players have to manipulate 3D shapes to create a solution to a pre-identified problem. The 3D shapes are in fact proteins and the potential solutions are ones that science is seeking in real life. Fold-it now has over 350,000 players.

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