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Gaming is a relatively young art form and people are still discovering interesting things you can do with this unique medium. A great example of this is Genes in Space, a game where you help cure cancer.

This isn’t just the game’s fictional premise; you are actually helping to cure cancer.

Yes, really.

So how does this work? Well, it turns out that the scientists at Cancer Research UK spend a huge amount of time painstakingly analysing genetic faults in thousands of cancer samples. The scientists’ aims are to look for clues to help develop treatments for specific cancers. Unfortunately this is a very slow process and Cancer Research wants to speed it up. However, if you outsource this research to the public then you get this important work done a lot quicker. But how can you do this? What could you do to make the public voluntarily analyse data?

The answer was to make a game about it. Behind the scenes the player is analysing data, but this is all covered up by a flashy exterior. It looks and plays like a normal video game, but it’s actually science masquerading. This approach prompted an event where game makers tried to find a fun and compelling way to make data analysis a video game.

The end result of all of this is the mobile game Genes in Space. A functional space shooter, where you plot a path through a short level and then follow that path, destroying asteroids as you go. It’s very basic but it’s very cool, not on any kind of gameplay level but on a conceptual level. As a game it’s not very good, but that doesn’t matter at all. Its main aim isn’t to do with that, its main aim is to get people to analyse data and it succeeds admirably. It’s a clever product that gives you an important task.

It’s really awesome to see people realise the potential of video games and to try out really interesting projects using them. So, if you have an iOS or Android device and some spare time, how about you visit your appropriate download store and start curing cancer today?

For more on Genes in Space, click here.

Stephen Gillespie

I'm a game writer at TechRaptor, I like a bit of everything, but I especially like games that do interesting things with the medium. Or just Dark Souls... I REALLY like Dark Souls. Praise the sun.