Remember when your parents told you that playing video games would never lead to anything good? Well, in at least one case, they were wrong. This way comes British charity Cancer Research UK’s game, Genes in Space, the intergalactic flight game for iOS that uses your in-game activity to search out patterns in DNA microarray data in the fight against cancer.
Gamers are put in command of a spaceship and sent on a mission to collect “Element Alpha,” a fictional material that helps power the space exploration effort. The valuable element can be bought and sold on an in-game market for credits that allow users to upgrade their ship with faster engine, more powerful weapons, or stronger shields.
The in-game maps are generated from real-life DNA microarray data that is waiting to be analyzed. While they are playing, users are aiding researchers in the fight to identify patterns in the data that could lead to the discovery of genetic faults that cause cancer.
While offline play is allowed, an Internet connection is required to transmit data to the research labs. Developers say each transfer uses approximately 250 kilobytes of data.
Play to Cure: Genes in Space is available FREE for the iPhone and iPad in the App Store. [DIRECT LINK]