EVE online gamers play as researchers in the Covid-19 game Mar-23-2022
Gamers are now asked by scientists to help in one of humanity's largest issues: the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, they've been up to the challenge and performed an equivalent of 471 years of effort.
In the space-based multiplayer game EVE Online, a mini-game named Project Discovery doubles as a citizen science platform that studies the immune system's responses to coronavirus, a novel virus. Players engage in the task of analyzing data through games which helps researchers identify specific patterns that can be used to predict disease severity.
The project is in collaboration together with McGill University, the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. To develop the citizen science element, EVE Online developer CCP Games collaborated together with Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS) which is a Swiss company that combines science and games to provide an experience that is seamless for gamers. According to an official CCP Games spokesperson, there 426,000 players playing the Covid-19 mini-game currently and are completing 1.8 million analyses since the game's debut in June of 2020.
"Multiplayer games, as well as more EVE Echoes ISK, are required to include citizens into science ... To collect the best of this and utilize it for a greater purpose in science good is a major issue for the entire industry."
Despite falling numbers, EVE Online remains popular as one of the longest-running multiplayer online games. It precedes World of Warcraft by a one and a half years and was dubbed "peerless." Its massive universe, which is dubbed New Eden, comprises almost 8000 star systems. Gameplay is basically an DIY space opera where players, also known as capsuleers, embark on huge space missions that cover mining, exploration industries, mining, and much other. There's also plenty of piracyto be found, and no-holds-barred PvP and PvE fights. Between battling for glory and riches in the universe capsuleers can also use their time to help boost vital research efforts on Earth through Project Discovery. In return, they're awarded with exclusive in-game items such as exclusive clothing and facial enhancements as well as the satisfaction of having hands on real-world scientific breakthroughs.
In the latest mission of Project Discovery the players assist scientists with studying the effects of Covid-19 on our immune systems by studying the blood samples of people who are infected for markers of disease. "We created an interface that connects to scientists' servers ... through which] you could switch out the data into the gamein the game)," says Finnbogason. The players must find and label cell clusters in the blood of Covid-19 patients by using an instrument for tracing.
"Oftentimes it's quite simple to observe large and dense clustering" He declares, "but when things become extremely sparse, it's when the profit is in a way." Players are working with the same set of data in order to form a consensus around the regions of their interest. After the data sets have been returned to the lab for research and validated, a higher resolution section of the region is then fed back into the game to allow players to examine again.
The method helps scientists identify the areas that they must study more closely in order to determine the cause of infection within different cells and different types. The role of gamers as described by David Ecker, production director for Cheap EVE Mobile ISK, helps cut the number of data-mining tasks that scientists otherwise need to complete. Since there are more gamers than scientists and, as Ecker says "we are able to skip ahead of so many years, and they can only take a look at the samples gamers have thought are worthy of consideration."
The data provided by citizens scientists will not only aid researchers studying the SARS-CoV2 infection. They will also be the training material for AI systems, so the processes could become automated in the near future. The AIs who are trained will assist not only with Covid-19 research, but also with other illnesses.