"People exert large amounts of problem-solving effort playing computer games. Simple image- and text-recognition tasks have been successfully ‘crowd-sourced’ through games, but it is not clear if more complex scientific problems can be solved with human-directed computing. Protein structure prediction is one such problem: locating the biologically relevant native conformation of a protein is a formidable computational challenge given the very large size of the search space. Here we describe Foldit, a multiplayer online game that engages non-scientists in solving hard prediction problems. Foldit players interact with protein structures using direct manipulation tools and user-friendly versions of algorithms from the Rosetta structure prediction methodology, while they compete and collaborate to optimize the computed energy. We show that top-ranked Foldit players excel at solving challenging structure refinement problems in which substantial backbone rearrangements are necessary to achieve the burial of hydrophobic residues. Players working collaboratively develop a rich assortment of new strategies and algorithms; unlike computational approaches, they explore not only the conformational space but also the space of possible search strategies. The integration of human visual problem-solving and strategy development capabilities with traditional computational algorithms through interactive multiplayer games is a powerful new approach to solving computationally-limited scientific problems."
(Seth Cooper, Firas Khatib, Adrien Treuille, Janos Barbero, Jeehyung Lee, Michael Beenen, Andrew Leaver-Fay, David Baker, Zoran Popović & Foldit players)
Nature 466, 756–760 (05 August 2010) doi:10.1038/nature09304 Received 22 January 2010 Accepted 30 June 2010
CircleMaze is a multi-player interactive musical game that encourages team building and collaboration on the Jam-O-Drum controller device. By combining novel input devices with real-time computer graphics on an integrated tabletop surface, CircleMaze brings together a group of people to participate in a synergetic musical game. Each player-station has a turntable input device that is used to control visual and aural elements of the game. Our primary goal for CircleMaze was to design a game that encouraged communication and collaboration among its players. The task for the players is to guide all of the game's pieces to the middle of the maze. Because the maze is divided into concentric rings, the pieces must pass through each ring in turn; thus, all the players must work together to achieve this goal. Movement of the pieces and rings produces changes in the musical score-as each player turns their ring, they affect the graphics and alter their sonic contribution to the ensemble. CircleMaze participants are immersed in a goal-oriented game in addition to a collaborative music-making experience.