EVE Online is a massively multiplayer game where all players inhabit the same sci-fi universe. It’s famous for being open-ended and player-driven, with a complex economy and political sphere. Players can be anything from traders to space pirates, and now they can be real-life citizen scientists.
Many professions in the game have their own minigames that let the players unwind from space travel and diplomacy. The game’s Icelandic creators, CCP, have added a new minigame that allows players to contribute to real science just by playing. The minigame, Project Discovery, is available at any time during the game and shows colourful images of real lab samples. The players are asked to look for patterns of protein distribution in fluorescent images of human cells.
Some people might play the minigame just because they want to contribute to real science but there are also in-game rewards for each completed task, which should incentivise a large number of players. This type of crowd-funded science can be very powerful, as seen in projects like Galaxy Zoo. Having so many people working on the images means that data from different players can be combined to improve our knowledge of human proteins. CCP have found a way to fit Project Discovery into the game’s universe in a relevant way as shown in this trailer:
Main image © CCP, Project Discovery