A biochemistry problem that has stumped scientists for over 15 years was recently solved by on line gamers in only 10 days! A game called Fold It allows 236,000 gamers to map the shape of a protein, receiving points for how close it was to the observed crystal structure. After 10 days the game produced a structural map of the protein which will allow drugs to be developed that can block its effects. the gamers who solved the problem had no special background in biochemistry.
I’m surprised that this isn’t used more often. With massive numbers in the gaming community, many of whom are crack problem solvers, offering scientific problems in game form could be a new way to multiple breakthroughs. I’ve often thought that computer games could have a greater role in education and here is a perfect example of how it could be done.