The latest update to CCP Games' long-running MMORPG EVE Online seeks to tap the games' playerbase as a resource for scientific scutwork by offering in-game rewards for playing a pattern-matching minigame, Project Discovery, that will help researchers understand how proteins function in human cells.
It's a neat and notable effort on the part of CCP to aid scientific research by turning data-processing work into a game, a tactic that's proven successful in the past with games like FoldIt and Planet Hunters.
In both of those examples players where able to make significant contributions to science by playing games designed to identify patterns or objects in a way that's fairly easy to do for a human, but difficult for a computer.
Project Discovery is very similar, tasking EVE Online players to identify specific proteins in images pulled from a database of over 13 million human cell images provided by The Human Protein Atlas in partnership with the Massively Multiplayer Online Science organization and researchers from the University of Reykjavik.
CCP is encouraging players to take part in Project Discovery via traditional reward systems like in-game currency and badges, and notes it has measures in place to scientifically verify the crowdsourced results.