Gamers to the rescue

When the pandemic hit there was no group more ready for the lockdown conditions than gamers. Staying inside, avoiding social situations and enjoying the latest releases is what they do best but with the government ordering this behaviour, gamers were set to be the stay-at-home heroes.

But, gamers didn’t stop there. Not happy with just reducing the spread of Covid-19, gamers put their specific skills into action to help scientists understand the virus.

EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing space simulation game. The constantly evolving world lets players travel between planets, trading and battling with other players, whilst mining and pirating the most valuable supplies. So how does any of this translate to Covid-19? The answer is with Project Discovery.

Project Discovery was a unique mini-game added to the world of EVE Online. What this did is allowed players to aid scientists in understanding the impact on our immune systems. Analysing data produced by flow cytometers, the players used a tracing tool to draw polygons around clusters of cells. The gamers themselves are acting as an emergency response squad in this time of crisis, becoming data scientists without breaking the seamless immersion of gaming.

The project will continue to facilitate new discoveries around Covid-19. Further than that, the data generated will play a key role in the development of the next generation of algorithms. Potentially helping with the development of a vaccine for future viruses.

So, next time you chastise the kids for playing too much in an online environment, think again, they could be contributing to solving the next global pandemic.

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