These past few weeks have seen ‘gamers’ exhibit some of the worst and most embarrassing behavior seen in the fandom. Weather it’s sexual harassment of female fighting game players, angry fanboys spamming metacritic over Mass Effect 3’s dlc, or those same fanboys making the charity Child’s Play an unwitting endorser of their campaign to have Mass Effect 3’s ending changed (and spoiling it for everyone else who didn’t play through the whole game in a week in the process of doing so), it seems that the behavior of certain subsets of the gaming community are hellbent on reaffirming the stereotype of gamers being losers. With that said, I thought I might use this week’s $20 Free Game of the week to showcase gamers doing good. In fact, how about showing gamers assisting with the cure of diseases?

Foldit is the offspring of an earlier program known as Rosetta@home. Created by David Baker of the University of Washington, Rosetta depicted the process of protein folding. Protein Folding is the process of how proteins assume their shapes. By analyzing the proteins, scientist can figure out how they are formed, making new strides forward in biology, and possibly bringing about cures to illnesses and diseases. (By the way, keep in mind that this article is from someone who knows absolutely nothing about biology or disease research). The Rosetta program used a screen-saver-like program to simulate the folding of dozens of proteins at once. It was distributed to public users and was incorporated into the PS3’s dashboard so that thousands, if not millions, of simulations could be ran and analyzed at once.

While the majority of its users didn’t know what all that weird bobbling meant, users who knew and understood what was taking place frequently grew frustrated as they saw several possible solutions that were easily ignored by the program’s artificial intelligence. Realizing that humans could come up with better solutions than an automated computer, Baker approached computer scientist David Salesin and game designer Zoran Popovi? in order to develop an interactive version of the game. The beta was initially released in 2008, and was utilized in Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP) experiments, in which solutions to the game’s problems were used as data on unknown protein structures.

Foldit adopts the concept of Gamification, in which real-world problems are tackled using game design methodologies. It’s easy to scoff at, but consider this: in 2011, Foldit players were able to correctly configure the structure of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus, a virus which causes AIDS. They were able to do so in only 3 weeks. However, this is a problem that stumped SCIENTISTS WHO WORKED IN THE FIELD for 15 YEARS. Think about, a major breakthrough in AIDS research, yet GAMERS cracked the puzzle in 3 WEEKS when researchers couldn’t even do it in 15 years. Who knows what else could come from this. If you cant to check it out for yourself, download it from

Oh, and to you non-gamers who mock those ‘nerds’ who would rather kick back and play some Mass Effect or Modern Warfare rather than get drunk and watch the game like the ‘cool’ people do, make fun of him all you want, but he could be finding out the cure to AIDS or diabetes.