Citizen science for the win: How EVE Online’s playerbase contributed to Human Project Atlas research

Over the last several years, CCP Games has teamed up with different science organizations and put EVE Online players to work with in-game activities that just so happen to contribute to legitimate science research in a gameified way, from biological protein to exoplanets. We’ve got another one of those “citizen science” stories today, as new papers resulting from EVE’s Project Discovery are headed to publication.

“In a study to be published in the September issue of Nature Biotechnology, the researchers found that players, or ‘citizen scientists’ as [KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Massive Multiplayer Online Science] now call them, helped boost the artificial intelligence system used for predicting protein localization on a subcellular level. The combination of crowdsourcing and AI led to improved classification of subcellular protein patterns and the first-time identification of ten new members of the family of cellular structures known as ‘Rods & Rings,’ according to Emma Lundberg, a researcher from KTH who leads the Cell Atlas, part of the Human Protein Atlas, at the Science for Life joint research center.”

So how exactly did EVE gamers contribute? “The researchers partnered with MMOS and CCP Games to integrate analysis of protein localization from the Human Protein Atlas Cell Atlas images directly into EVE Online, a massively multiplayer online game that’s mostly famous for its unique, player driven stories and huge space battles with thousands of players participating on the game’s single shard server,” explains the press release. “The resulting mini-game was played by more than 300,000 citizen scientists within EVE Online and has been described as a milestone in citizen science. Together they generated more than 33 million image classifications of protein subcellular localization.”

o7 to everyone who participated!

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