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EVE Online players can help scientists understand the coronavirus

(Image credit: CCP Games)
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EVE Online's Project Discovery (opens in new tab) initiative is back, and after helping scientists study how human cells are built and identify exoplanets it's now tasking players with analysing data to assist coronavirus research. 

Pilots can take a break from their regular space job to play a simple minigame that mines data on human cells. This data has been acquired through flow cyometry (opens in new tab) and will be used to help scientists understand how COVID-19 affects different populations and types of cells. First, however, cell populations need to be identified, and that's where the players can help. 

The minigame gets you tracing groups of cell populations, which will in turn net you in-game rewards. You don't need to understand the science behind it, but there's a tutorial that will fill you in on how this benefits the research. 

CCP created Project Discovery with Massively Multiplayer Online Science, which leverages games' playerbases to aid scientific research, and they're collaborating with McGill University, BC Cancer and individual scientists. With the results from the analysed data, they expect to make new discoveries and create new algorithms. 

Other games putting players to work in helping coronavirus research include Foldit (opens in new tab), which involves solving puzzles by manipulating protein chains, essentially letting anyone take a crack at designing an antiviral protein. It's quite a bit more complicated than the Project Discovery minigame, with the harder difficulty mode making you design proteins from scratch, but it's been designed so that it's easy to pick up. 

You can keep track of Project Discovery's progress via updates from the team of computer scientists and bioinformaticians (opens in new tab) from McGill University's School of Computer Science.

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.