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Play games, save lives - Play to Cure: Genes in Space helps researchers analyze cancer data
Cancer Research UK has launched an ingenious method of enlisting the help of Android users to understand and, ultimately, to cure cancer sooner – turn it into a game. Play to Cure: Genes in Space is an easy to play, family friendly space shooter. The objective of the game is to fly through space collecting a newly identified space substance, Element Alpha, then trade it for upgrades on your ship. The objective of the overall project is best outlined in their description in the Play Store:
Instead of one lone scientist analysing a cancer data set by eye for hours, a group of gamers can get through that data simply by playing this space themed game... Having more eyes on the data means we could generate more accurate results. And crucially it means moving us closer to the day when all cancers are cured.
Controls for Play to Cure: Genes in Space are responsive and very simple, actually reminding me of an endless runner, with sideways movement to dodge, or tap to shoot incoming obstacles. The pre-flight route planning is the magic to this project” users are presented with an actual cancer gene segment, that appears as a scattered mess of the fictional Element Alpha. Carefully choosing a path through the highest density of Element Alpha actually generates a line graph of the gene segment for cancer researchers, and is your flight path in game.
The concept of turning tedious tasks into games is not a new one. I recall an episode of a popular animated TV show about a four fingered family with a troublesome school-aged boy. In this particular episode the boy is remanded to after school detention. The boy is instructed to lick and seal a stack of envelopes with the suggestion to count how many he can get through in the first hour, then attempt to beat that number in the next hour. Sounds like a fun game to me.
I have my doubts that this game will win any awards for its gameplay or graphics, but I truly encourage everyone to help find a cure for cancer by installing Play to Cure: Genes in Space. How many gene segments can you get through in an hour?