You might think playing games on your smartphone is a waste of time, but how about if I told you all those furiously tapping and swiping commuters are actually helping save lives? Well, perhaps not all of them, but Cancer Research UK has come up with a brilliant way to crowd source help crunching the data looking for early signs of cancer in patients’ genes. We’ve come a long way in cancer research and treatment, but it still affects a huge number of people. In the UK alone someone is diagnosed with the disease every two minutes.
Play to Cure: Genes In Space is a fun interstellar flight game where players are tasked with exploring the star systems in search of a cloudy substance dubbed ‘Element Alpha’. The really clever part is that scientists have managed to create these star systems using the actual data from a patient’s genetic makeup. Those cloudy patches are potential mutations in the genome strongly associated with cancer, and when multiple players make a bee-line for the densest patches to collect their prize, they are actually pointing the way to hot spots that should be investigated medically. Now THAT is what I call an innovation in gaming.