Home > interdisciplinary > Crowd-sourcing to gamers for scientific discovery

Crowd-sourcing to gamers for scientific discovery


A screenshot of the online Foldit game that allows players to compete against each other to figure out molecular folding patterns of proteins. (Image from the University of Washington)

Whoever said playing games is a waste of time? University of Washington researchers have harnessed the power, skill, and determination of the wide world of gamers to solve the conformation of a retrovirus enzyme that foiled scientists for over a decade. It took gamers playing Foldit, an online protein-folding game, three weeks to create a structure that was close enough to the real thing for the scientists at the University of Washington to solve the problem. Thank goodness that human intuition still can beat computer automation!


  1. 23 September, 2011 at 08:36

    I think as a Biology major I can feel better about procrastinating when I’m doing so by playing this game :). The premise is really amazing.. but what is more amazing is the amount of people playing this game! Surely, It can’t be all bio-enthusiasts.

  2. 27 September, 2011 at 20:41

    This is probably one of the most amazing examples of cross-disciplinary cooperation. I shared this with a friend (gamer), who was so excited that people are finally utilizing the types of genius within the gaming community. This shows that no group is too obscure to aid in intellectual advances.

  3. 21 October, 2011 at 15:28

    I totally agree… and am anxious to see how they can come up with other video game challenges to help advance medicine even more.

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