Video Games, the future of medical research.
Many parents advise their children to spend less time playing video games and more time doing
Something productive, Well now after many years of development universities have created video
games that aid scientific efforts towards solving many debilitating and life threatening
diseases. After spending some time "aiding science" Two of these games have stood out.
Firstly is a game called 'Phylo' developed at the McGill School of Computer Science in
Montreal. This game is an online based game playable from your web browser. After much analysis
the experts' computer spits out thousands of missed or incorrect alignment sequences, these
sequences are transformed into a game. Strands of DNA are represented as brightly coloured
blocks, Mutations are depicted as red lines that limit the player to move the brightly coloured blocks in a straight line. The aim of the game is to get the best possible score per level,
this score translates into the best alignment possible for the given sequence.
Within a year of its release Phylo has had over 17,000 users registered and has provided
350,000 solutions to alignment sequence problems and has also provided insights into 521
One of the games two designers Jerome Waldispuhl stated
"Computers are best at handling large amounts of messy data, but where we require high
accuracy, we need a human, In this case, the genomes we're analyzing have already been pre-
aligned by computers, but there are parts of it that are misaligned. Our goal is to identify
these parts and transform the task of aligning them into a puzzle people will want to sort
Secondly is a slightly older yet more sophisticated game 'Foldit' developed in 2008 by the
University of Washington. This game has produced equal success by helping scientists solve the
protein structure of an AIDS-related Enzyme in a few short weeks even though this specific
problem has had scientists at a blank for over a decade.
Firas Khatib the creator of the game foldit stated "The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."
Therefore eventually the phrase "Stop playing video games and do something productive" will become obsolete as video games develop into powerful research tools for the greater good.
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