Health care is an ever-expanding industry so it makes sense that the world of games and health will intersect.
For an introduction to the complexities of health care in the developed world and how we can start seeing how games can impact it watch this keynote by Ben Swayer at the most recent Games for Health – Europe conference.
When it comes to general care there have been some attempts like WiiFit that brought the idea of games connected to health to the mainstream. The connection between professional game designers and health care practitioners can better bridge the divide between for-profit and for-health care. The ideal is people play games that are fun in itself, and it just so happens that the games are about (or for) healthy living.
Hot on the heels of the success of Foldit (which used gamers to identify how an AIDS enzyme folds) gamers may have found two new planets. Gamers, whomever that refers to, were tasked with finding new planets through a game aptly called Planet Hunters.
Essentially Planet Hunters works by taking the data that the Kepler telescope captures and piping it into the game. The game itself is about finding patterns that match potential planet transits (which is one way to discover planets).
As of this post being published the game players have found 34 potential planets with 4,235,328 observations analyzed.
After some four million games, players have discovered 69 possible new planets, which the Kepler team will now look into in more depth. Each user that helped discover the two planets has been named in the acknowledgements section of a report published in Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society.
“While the human brain is exceptionally good at detecting patterns, it is impractical for a single individual to review each of the 150,000 light curves in every quarterly release of the Kepler database,” the report reads.
Flodit is a game that you can play to help scientist solve issues that computers can’t – in this case it’s the complex folding of an enzyme. The idea to essentially crowd source science is not new (think SETI@Home) but using a game to get people to participate in such a large task is. And it worked!
You can read about the success of the program and more about the complexity of enzymes here.
Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
Cracking the enzyme “provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs,” says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Firas Khatib of the university’s biochemistry lab said in a press release.