The researchers noted that much attention has been given to the possibilities of crowd-sourcing and game playing in scientific discovery. Their results indicate the potential for integrating online video games into real-world science.
Dr. Seth Cooper, of the UW Department of Computing Science and Engineering, is a co-creator of Foldit and its lead designer and developer. He studies human-computer exploration methods and the co-evolution of games and players.
"People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at," Cooper said. "Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."
Games like Foldit are evolving. To piece together the retrovirus enzyme structure, Cooper said, gamers used a new Alignment Tool for the first time to copy parts of know molecules and test their fit in an incomplete model.
"The ingenuity of game players," Khatib said, "is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems.
According to Popovic, "Foldit shows that a game can turn novices into domain experts capable of producing first-class scientific discoveries. We are currently applying the same approach to change the way math and science are taught in school."
|Contact: Leila Gray|
University of Washington