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Games, for scientists by scientists
Back in the 90's the horror of videogames had been marked by science as a gateway into violence and psychopathy. If you played Doom you were then doomed to become a serial killer. More recently, however, research actually tried to take a stab at the good side of gaming. Why? Probably because all the gamers grew up and happened to become researchers. So now we have evidence of increased visual-spatial skills, and hand eye coordination. So much so that even surgeons perform better if they play the Wii before doing their task. Gaming is good thanks to gamers who supported gamers.
Something else is starting to happen. People are starting to understand that games can simulate and produce data. There is talk of the army using virtual rooms to simulate battle situations so that under the same situation in duty the response time will be significantly reduced. There is also another effort that is more captivating for me personally. Fold It. Biochemists have teamed up with computer scientists to produce a game, currently under beta testing, to help create a database of folded proteins.
Is this a good idea? Why not? Games are just a set of fundamental rules of simulated physics that are manipulated in real time with real time visual feedback. Proteins use fundamental physical rules to create their own structure. OMG! What if we gave gamers, who have a hundred thousand-fold more manipulating experience, take the gruelling task of folding hundreds of proteins and they volunteer to do it!? Awesome.
It's a fair trade. Gamers become scientists by helping to contribute to possible future cancer cures and they get a free game into the bargain. Scientists get a bunch of free work and data to make those future cures possible.
Now the question is when do we gamers get to design our own dates?