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Charity launches second cancer research game

Published on 09/10/14 at 12:09pm
Reverse the odds image
In ‘Reverse The Odds’ you help the ‘Odds’ – colourful creatures whose world is falling into decline

Cancer Research UK has launched its second citizen science game this year called ‘Reverse The Odds’ in an attempt to have the public help analyse data for cancer research.

One of the largest cancer R&D based charities with around £500 million charitable donations last year, CRUK says the game helps players ‘create a magical world’ and to save a race of ‘adorable minions’.

By doing this, CRUK says each player will be helping its scientists analyse real cancer data, all through a puzzle game on a smartphone or tablet.

In ‘Reverse The Odds’, you help the ‘Odds’ – colourful creatures whose world is falling into decline. By completing mini puzzle games and upgrading their land, you can restore the Odds back to their lively selves.

But it’s not just the Odds players are helping as CRUK has incorporated the analysis of real cancer data into the game.

By incorporating these data analyses into Reverse The Odds, CRUK says it can get thousands of players to help its scientists learn more about different cancers including head and neck, lung, and bladder cancer.

The charity explains that players will essentially be analysing in the same way researchers do, but because there are a many more players than scientists, lots of data can be assessed much more quickly. It says this also helps free up more of its researchers’ valuable time and as they look to unveil clues about cancer sooner.

The images players are seeing when playing the game are magnified samples of real tumour tissue donated by former patients. By answering simple questions about this data, players are helping CRUK’s scientists to learn more about cancer, and more effectively prescribe the most appropriate treatment options for future patients.

Reverse the Odds can be downloaded Google Play or Amazon (but not yet, according to its statement, via Apple’s iTunes software, although it is expected soon).

The game has been commissioned by British broadcaster Channel 4 as part of its October ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ feature, and was developed in collaboration with Maverick Television’s multi-platform team and Chunk.

Second game this year

By allowing the public to help with research – a strategy known as citizen science – CRUK is building on a similar game the charity launched in February called ‘Genes in Space’.

This game, which can be downloaded as an app via Google Play or Apple’s iTunes, is to collect a fictional substance dubbed Element Alpha. This represents genetic cancer data, which might underpin certain types of cancer.

As a recruit of the game’s ‘Bifrost Industries’ – the player’s mission is to collect the valuable and tradable substance Element Alpha and rise through the employee ranks.

The data analysis goes back to CRUK’s scientists in two ways. First, when a player maps a route through the Element Alpha and secondly, when a gamer fly your spaceship through the intergalactic space course to collect this substance.

By playing Genes in Space players will be analysing significant amounts of genetic data which would have taken scientists hours to do. These data can then be used to develop new and potentially life-saving treatments.

For more on gamification from pharma firms and charitable groups, see our latest feature on the topic here.

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