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Playing at Synthetic Biology

The developers of FoldIt have a new game aimed at synthetic biology, writes Carolyn Graybeal at the Citizen Science Salon blog.

The aim of the game is to get players to generate new ideas, questions, and solutions, creator Jonathan Barone from the University of Washington tells Graybeal. The game, called Nanocrafter, teaches players about the biochemistry of DNA and then lets them play around with different pieces that then react when placed together in ways that reflect how DNA nucleotides pair up, form chains, and become a double helix.

The game developers then offer biweekly challenges that Barone says may either replicate previous research or address a new problem within synthetic biology

"While replicating published data is always useful, it is when users create their own solutions that we start to see really interesting and exciting stuff," he adds. "If we can demonstrate that player submissions are theoretically sound, we can present them to scientists to try in their labs."