The Borderlands Science Program may be able to help with COVID-19 research


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The Borderlands 3 It can be a pretty good multiplayer looter shooter, but it can also be a tool in some important scientific research.

In a letter published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers from the program Borderlands Science have analyzed their results from a special data sequencing mini game that has been integrated into the popular game. These results can be used, according to the authors, in research on COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The title of the letter, “Leveling Up Citizen Science”, is a confirmation of the idea that the public can be involved in solving scientific problems, such as the 2008 puzzle challenge Foldit. He asked online players to predict a protein 3D structure through online puzzle games, which led to the creation of an impressive number of useful results.

The authors of the letter, including McGill University’s Jérôme Waldispühl (even Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford), argue that Borderlands Science has created a level of player engagement that can only be described as “whole-class” higher than any other. another attempt to use video games to solve research problems.

“At first glance, the link between a player base and a scientific problem seems impossible,” the letter said. “The fast-paced, first person shooter-looter game full of dark humor is designed primarily for players looking for adventure and action.” This is certainly true, but it seems that the players themselves are open to solving puzzles for the common good.

Borderlands Science is available through the eponymous title only from April 2020. Players are invited to take part in a tile-matching game over Sanctuary III via the arcade cabinet. With the help of other players to solve puzzles in the mini game, scientists can work on the alignment of 16S rNA microbial sequences in the human microbiome.

Crowdsourcing computing power as in the above case has produced thousands of hours of work on a daily basis, which when performed by researchers alone, were comparatively at the level of a few hundred.

Although the idea of ​​major scientific research on COVID-19 with Borderlands 3 as a catalyst seems to take some more time to achieve in the future, it is quite interesting to think that playing a game can be a useful way understanding of a disease, which affects the human species worldwide.


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