As we all begin to look forward to the interactive section of South By South West in March, PSFK has identified five key trends that readers should be monitoring during the festival. One of these trends, we have coined ‘Gaming-For-Good.’
Fueled by the ability to connect and gather players from across the world and motivate them to participate by injecting competitive aspects and rewards into structured play, games are growing up and being seen as agents of change. The ability to scale enables these platforms to prompt positive action and overcome challenges on both an individual and societal level with implications for a growing number of areas from science and medicine to education and the environment. Whether improving health, fundraising for charity or solving previously unsolvable problems, games are encouraging personal and social good.
One pertinent example of this trend that continues to come up in our research is ‘Using Gaming To Leverage Collective Manpower.’
Fold.it is a web-based platform for collaborating on scientific research that allows gamers to compete against one another to design new proteins which could be used to help prevent or treat diseases like HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s and Cancer. Developed by researchers at the US based University Of Washington, the platform asks online players to build 3D models of protein molecules online to earn points and status based off their problem solving abilities. Researchers recently took advantage of the platform by inviting gamers to compete in configuring the structure of a retrovirus enzyme related to HIV/AIDS. The resulting breakthrough in configuring the 3D structure of the protein in question took players just weeks though the puzzle had stumped scientists for years.
People to follow around this trend:
Jane McGonigal: Jane is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. @avantgame