Gaming in the name of science

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

We think there’s some legal requirement that all blogs make at least one passing reference to singing sensation du jour Lana Del Rey. (At the very least, it’ll juke our stats, as they’d say on The Wire*.) So here goes: Could it be that Ms. Del Rey’s viral hit song “Video Games” is actually about Phylo, the online game that lets casual players contribute to scientific research? You know, by arranging multiple sequences of coloured blocks that represent human DNA? And thereby helping scientists gain new insight into a variety of genetically based diseases? Probably not, but last year 17,000 registered users got on the Phylo bandwagon. And there’s plenty room for more. “It’s guilt-free playing,” says Mathieu Blanchette, who designed the game with professor Jérôme Waldispuhl of the McGill School of Computer Science. “Now you can tell yourself it’s not just wasted time.”

So, in the name of science, go play a video game.

*Gratuitous references to The Wire: Also good for driving up Web traffic.

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