Could there be a way to convert all those countless hours we spend on games into something useful in real-life, something big, as big as curing cancer?
As implausible as it sounds, turns out, the answer is yes. 'Play to Cure: Genes In Space' is an intergalactic game by Cancer Research UK that uses real-world cancer data that you solve in a virtual world to help scientist cure breast cancer.
A free Android and iOS space travel game, under the surface, Genes in Space uses real genetic data to create your quests, and playing the game speeds up the process of finding faulty genes, responsible for breast cancer. You can even play from the comfort of your couch to solve one of the world's most frightening diseases.
What’s the game all about? Genes in Space revolves around the mysterious ‘Element Alpha’ in space. You take over a spaceship to collect as much as possible of it. At the beginning of each level you have to pick the route through most Element Alpha (the most dense area). That route actually translates into real genetic data, and if thousands of gamers join in to manually map it, the speed of cancer research would improve hugely.
Real-world microarray genetic data...
...gets translated into a game map - just draw a track through the most dense areas to play.
The idea came about after a 2013 hackathon that brought scientists, game devs and designers together from all walks in life, including Google and Facebook employees. Now, with this game, game developers Guerilla Tea collaborated with scientists to have the real anonymous genetic data coming from thousands of breast tumors transformed into a space adventure game.
Cancer Research UK’s first game (not on mobile) already had 200 000 people classifying over 2 million cancer images, an effort that’s reduced the time for research from 18 months to just three. Why not play from the comfort of your Android and iOS device now for such a great cause?