Stanford University researchers Rhiju Das and Ingmar Riedel-Kruse like to play games. Specifically, they are champions of scientific discovery games – games that are designed so that anyone can play and, in doing so, contribute to solving the hardest questions in science.
“There’s this paradigm of scientific discovery games and it may sound silly or far-fetched, but in the last 10 years it’s led to important scientific discoveries in several different disciplines,” Das said. “We want more people to play the games, more people to create these games, and more people to realize that this is a legitimate mode of discovery.”
Both Das and Riedel-Kruse have developed their own games. Das, an associate professor of biochemistry, developed Eterna, an online puzzle game where players design molecules for RNA-based medicines. Eterna has engaged over 200,000 players. These non-experts have begun writing their own peer-reviewed manuscripts and have organized their own yearly Eternacon convention at Stanford.
Both Das and Riedel-Kruse are working on translating skilled game play into laboratory success. With Eterna, Das and his lab tested player-generated solutions in test tubes and used those results to both further their research and reward players in the game. In the future, Das hopes they can run these laboratory experiments not just in test tubes but with living cells, directed by Eterna players. Riedel-Kruse has done work on robotic biology labs controlled remotely online and sees the possibility of integrating such systems to enable real-time laboratory scientific discovery games. He is also working on ways to modify his biotic games for online play.
Read the entire Stanford Report Story by Taylor Kubota HERE
Image credit: L.A. Cicero