In 2011, a game called Foldit caused a sensation by solving a decades-old scientific mystery in just three weeks. Scientists have long struggled to determine the structure of a monkey enzyme that played a critical role in how the AIDS virus matured and spread. Knowing its structure would help in the development of drugs to fight the virus.
The online folding protein game, which was created by computer scientists at the University of Washington, challenged thousands of gamers worldwide to come up with the enzyme’s structure in exchange for points and rankings. Even though most gamers had little or no background in biochemistry, the approach worked. “These results indicate the potential for integrating video games into the real-world scientific process,” according to a paper by Foldit creators and players published in the journal, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, in September 2011.
Criticism of managers who use workplace games to promote productivity has been gaining steam lately — how can businesses use games effectively?
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