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Author Topic: Video game helps with HIV research  (Read 1207 times)

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Online OniyaTopic starter

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Video game helps with HIV research
« on: September 19, 2011, 09:08:29 PM »
http://www.newser.com/story/128835/video-gamers-solve-molecular-aids-puzzle.html

Basically, there's a game called Foldit.  Part of the goal of the game is to fold structures into the most efficient configuration.  This mimics how long, stringy molecules like proteins and DNA behave in real life.  Given the particular molecular structure of an enzyme found in an SIV variant, 12-15 gamers took 10 days of tag-teaming to find the most efficient shape.

Offline Ashe

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2011, 08:32:33 AM »
I only just found out about this the other day.  Didn't realize the story was already 10 days old.

What I'm really trying to find is the research paper on it, rather than just the news reports.  I know I won't understand much, but I just want to see what they have, possibly.  I was excited as all get out because in-between the constant streams of Libya and Healthcare Reform, it's good to find news such as, "We may be a step closer to finding a cure for AIDS."

The pessimistic side of me wants to say there will never be a cure, just as there will never be a true vaccine for influenza, but hey, if the human mind can think up of tiny nanobots in the bloodstream, perhaps we can actually make them?

At least we know one more thing about the enemy.

Offline Rotochron

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 08:51:35 AM »
Yes, this is super cool. There was an article on Cracked.com about this sort of thing, where computers can't handle something as well as a huge group of (bored) gamers. I think we also have something to do with mapping the human genome via another puzzle game that mimics the construction of protein strands, or something like that..

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2011, 09:29:56 AM »
Much like the SETI program, there's something to be said about the power of multiple people targeting a problem through software.  It's a combination of the computer's accuracy and numerous shots of human intuition.

Offline InariShiftskin

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2011, 05:02:13 AM »
I play Foldit for a few hours a day. As you move through the introductory levels, it's actually quite fun and they have multiple chatrooms built into the game so that, in case you get stuck, you can ask for help from other gamers too.

Offline Frelance

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2011, 11:36:26 PM »
One of my profs mentioned this game. I cannot remember is it free?

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2011, 12:30:55 AM »
Wikipedia says it's freeware.  It might require a registration.

Offline Frelance

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2011, 01:05:19 AM »
Thanks, I forgot about it after my professor brought it up but I had meant to try it.

Offline Numerion

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 02:20:03 PM »
And there some people say that games are not profitable in any way... But yeah it's just one way :D
Gonna try it out :>

Offline klamity

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 04:02:33 PM »
For those of you wondering, I personally HAVE played the game. Its interesting in its own right, and personally I didn't find it much fun, but there is appeal in playing games AND having a real impact on the world. Plus, if you do help during a break through, its always nice to rub it in peoples noses when they say video games do no good.

Like Oniya said, it is free ware and does require a registration. You have to download a client (which is small if I remember correctly), and that can be used in on and offline modes. There are a handful of tutorials before you are tossed out, with an option to go back for more complex tutorials. There are various features you can manipulate, like the rotation of various segments, the placing etc, I didnt get into the really deep stuff before I lost interest. You can set various conditions like locking certain features into place or 'elastics' that pull segments together and then push a button to have the entire structure optimize itself. The goal is usually to try and get the highest score by manipulating small branches on the outside into the most desirable configuration, usually with the least space taken up.

I feel this game proves a point about a concept known as 'gamification'. Its where you take aspects of games and apply them to other things because, hey, games are fun right? A site where the more you participate, you earn credits which can be used to buy in site items or redeem them for real world things is an example. The ammount of man hours put into a free online multiplayer game, even if its just chat and a high score board like Foldit is staggering. I can remember the exact figure but since WoW released in the mid 2000s, players have already spent a few MILLION years worth of time playing.

What im hoping is that the rest of the world takes this to heart as a lesson and applies it to everything else. Incentive's things is great, and having a game to get those incentives is even better. The US Military has already adopted this in a project to help fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden, in the form of a simple game on one of their websites (the name escapes me).

I know this seems like a long post for an old topic, but I know a fair but about the subject xD

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 04:39:12 PM »
It seems similar, in the multi-computer approach, to the downloadable SETI client (is that thing still available?).  But it's more than that.  It's not 'just' that puzzles are fun for a lot of people, but that when you have a couple thousand people approaching a puzzle, you're going to get at least a couple hundred methods of trying to find the answer.  That's not something you can do with even a moderate-sized lab.  Labs develop hierarchies, and the 'lone wolf' isn't likely to get the same amount of freedom to try their approach. (I've worked IT support for a lab, so I got to watch the politics from the 'outside'.)  If I felt like it, I could ignore everybody else and hammer away at a different approach for as long as I wanted to.

Offline klamity

Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 06:19:18 PM »
I dont think its so much the best way of doing things here with foldit: yes users will attempt it a different method than another user, but the scoring system is effectively a ranking of how well you solved the particular 'puzzle'. The highest ranked models are likely to be looked at by the researchers, and judged. And no, I believe the SETI program you're reffering about (I don't know the name, I want to say it was like SETI Home or something) has been taken down due to lack of funding: I am not definite about that however. And I feel your frustration. Engineering is the same way :P

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Video game helps with HIV research
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2012, 06:42:04 PM »
And no, I believe the SETI program you're reffering about (I don't know the name, I want to say it was like SETI Home or something) has been taken down due to lack of funding: I am not definite about that however. And I feel your frustration. Engineering is the same way :P

Actually, I did a search on SETI Home, and found that it actually is still going on.  (For those who are interested:  http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ )  Makes me feel like looking for that old Speak 'n Spell.