For a game based on microtransactions, EVE Online and its intense community tend to make big waves. For better or worse, players have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of in-game property and raised hundreds of thousands for real-world charities.
CCP Games and MMOS has announced a new EVE Online minigame that will help with the not-so-mini task of mapping proteins for the Human Protein Atlas, a scientific database that documents benign and cancerous proteins.
To stay consistent with the game’s aesthetic, EVE Online will only use the immunofluorescently stained subcellular proteins for its minigames. The bright staining on these proteins is reminiscent of colorful nebulae images taken by Hubble.
“These beautiful images are a perfect match to a sci-fi environment. The task will be to find one or more locations in the cell where proteins are attached to it.”
Though CCP hasn’t announced what in-game benefits the minigame may have, the objective is simple: players will identify protein links in over 250,000 images total, starting with simple links and leveling up to more complicated images.
Pattern recognition is still something that humans do reliably better than computers, so the 13 million images remaining will take countless man hours to complete. Players of EVE Online will help thousands of researchers and millions, if not billions, of patients. Having a complete database would be an enormous boon to modern medicine, and we’ll have MMO players, in part, to thank.
Image source: proteinatlas.org