If you think gamers are nothing but dumbass slackers glued to their computers/gaming consoles 24/7, think again. These dudes might just save the world! Well okay, I'm exaggerating. But guess what? Gamers have recently cracked the structure of an enzyme that belongs to the same family as HIV. This AIDS enzyme puzzle that has baffled scientists for decades, took gamers only 3 weeks to solve through a video game that generated an accurate 3D model of the enzyme, far from the flat image offered by a microscope. This video game, dubbed 'Foldit', allowed gamers to compete to unfold chains of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins/enzymes) using a set of online tools. The resolution of this long-standing scientific problem proves vital in the efforts to understand the causes of many diseases, especially HIV, and develop new drugs against them.
Okay gamers, I'm impressed. You guys totally pawned that virus -- something beyond the realm of Warcraft, God of War, and Dungeons and Dragons. Consider the brilliance and ingenuity needed to design a game, and the spatial reasoning skills that it takes to figure one out. This just goes to show that the gamer pool is one overflowing with talents just waiting to be recognized and harnessed.
I applaud the idea of tapping this unconventional genre to advance the human condition. This innovative approach may very well be applied to other diseases such as cancer. Maybe we could even have gamers work on the economy! Why not base a game on the nation's debt or build our country into SimCity and see what gamers will do with it? I bet they'll do a far more better job than most of the politicians out there, haha!
So now that round 1 is up, gamers better ante up and think outside the damn box to get through the next level. I'm definitely looking forward to a lot more breakthroughs like this. Game on, guys!