The gamification articles last week were focused on the individual. What came to my mind when I read those articles was the more general application of gamification. Instead of focusing on the applications of gamification in the individual personal life, I like to focus on the more scientific applications. One of the best examples of gamification being used for science is Fold It. Fold It is a game that has players finding the most favorable folding pattern for various proteins. The colloquial version of its genesis story has Seth Cooper, the games lead designer, reasoning that humans spatial reasoning capacity is better than a computers spatial reasoning. He also recognized that people that regularly play video games have spent many hours honing their spatial reasoning ability. He concluded that if you were to give gamers a game that approximates how a protein would behave in the real world that they could quickly start folding proteins of their own. He was right. Within a few weeks of the games release the players had cracked one of the longest standing proteins in the biochemistry field. Gamification has more value than just personal gain. It need not be constrained to personal growth and progress. While those things are important and worthwhile for an individual, using gamification as a scientific tool has the potential to impact millions. Discussing gamification as it relates to the individual is useful, but the topic deserves to have its broader implications addressed.

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