EteRNA : The Game to create the first large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs
Scientists have done it again. In an attempt to have a broader understanding of cellular control, nanomachines and the role of the RNA – in addition to many other topics – scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University have created EteRNA. It’s a community based game where you solve puzzles based on given design restrictions. The designs you create will be added to a large catalogue of designs that in turn will be tested against other existing computer programs. This attempt will “provide a crucial training ground that bridges the gap between the tutorials and the Lab” and since “many existing computer programs take a huge amount of time to solve large RNAs, and you are very likely to find better, faster ways.” (http://eterna.cmu.edu/htmls/abouteterna.html)
How to be part of the community?
It’s very simple really, go to http://eterna.cmu.edu/ create an account, go through the basic tutorial that will explain in detail what this is all about, and then you can start making a difference!
The game is very fun to play, very challenging and addictive. (So be warned!) Once you complete a challenge your score will increase and you will rank higher on the score board:
You have a multitude of puzzleschallenges to select from, and you have ratings for each challenge category. Start with the easier ones and once you get a full grasp of the concept move your way upwards. The interface is simple, it’s a combination of HTML pages but the main game is made using Adobe Flash (iPad, iPhone users, jump to your computer browsers).
The community is very large, some of the players have moved from previous projects such as FoldIt and have established their presence by creating groups for their members.
Once again computer games have proved to be not only a resource of leisure and fun but an essential tool to help the scientific community progress. The rewardranking approach has also proved its power in user engagement.