The Gamer Advantage

From today’s Yahoo Games Blog comes this story about a video game called “Foldit” developed for the purpose of tapping the spatial skills of online gamers to solve real-world research problems:

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

I had read about this study a while back when it was first getting started and remember thinking how it was a great example of collaboration among people that showed mutual respect and a willingness to play to people’s strengths rather than the usual divide and conquer of much scientific research.

It’s great to see the early promise of this approach bearing fruit.