Back in June, scientists at McGill University's School of Computer Science announced the return of Project Discovery, a minigame that helps them with data gathering. This time around, Project Discovery sheds some light on data about the coronavirus, simply by mapping groups of cell populations in-game. EVE Online players have since really stepped up to help, with more than 171,000 gamers completing a staggering 47 million tasks, according to BBC News.
This number reveals the strength of citizen science—the number of minigames completed amounts to 36 years of categorising cells, something that would have been simply impossible for the team at McGill to do on their own. All EVE Online players need to do on the other hand, is draw polygons around cell clusters. EVE Online's lead producer David Ecker says it took little to get people interested in the minigame: "We gamified this quite a bit. There's incentives for people to do it ... but it's also just the heart and soul of our community, as well. These are things that our people really enjoy, and this really is for the greater good."
Players interviewed by the BBC also add that the minigame not only made them feel like they could help out with something important from the comfort of their own home, but that it made the science behind something that affects so many more approachable. In the face of something that makes us feel helpless, it's certainly nice to know that it doesn't take much to do your part.
If you would like to participate, you can find more info on EVE Online's page dedicated to Project Discovery. Back in September, the ooficial EVE Online blog also published an in-depth post about the project and the science behind it, including insights from several scientists.