Video Game Players Helping Scientists Map Gut Micorbiome

Who would have thought that scientists would need the help of video gamer players in their research? In a latest study, McGill researchers collaborated with video game companies Gearbox Software and 2K to make a game, called Borderline 3, that would draw players to map human gut microbiome to advance medical research.

Dr. Jérôme Waldispühl, associate professor in McGill’s School of Computer Science, collaborated with video game companies to launch this game.

Gearbox Co-founder Randy Pitchford explains that Borderland 3 is the new development between entertainment and health, a novel game within the game in which playtime really leads to the formation of real data that will be used for betterment of research in curing diseases and donating to medical research. He further says, “We see Borderlands Science as an opportunity to use the enormous popularity of Borderlands 3 to advance social good.”

Trillions of small bacteria are living in the gut of humans, some of which are linked with inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, obesity and allergies. It is not easy to recognize them but this job will be done by Borderline 3 now. This project will read the skills of the game players and try to map the bacteria of human gut, reducing and saving thousands of hours worth of intensive work for the researchers.

Borderlands Science ciphers the DNA of the bacteria as a thread of bricks of four different colors and shapes. By uniting these blocks with one another the players can help the researchers to understand the difference between every small bacteria.  The more the players solve the puzzle and help in decoding the small bacteria, the more the points rewarded to them.

The puzzle in Borderlands 3. –Borderlands

McGill University, Massive Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS) and the Microsetta Initiative at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine have all collaborated in the creation of Borderlands Science.

MMO’s CEO and Co-founder Attila Szantner says:

We are always looking for new partners in the field of gaming, and this is a perfect fit for us. We created MMOS to connect scientific research and video games as a seamless gaming experience and that is exactly what this has become. I believe that Borderlands 3 players advancing microbiome research will change how we think about video games.

Mayim Bialik, Big Bang Theory star, neuroscientist and researcher, has recorded her voice for this game which will help and guide the players.

You can learn more about Borderlines Science Project at Borderlands Science online and about the project at www.dnapuzzles.org.

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